British pig meat exporters have taken the first steps towards maximising new opportunities in California following the introduction of the controversial Proposition 12 legislation in the state.
California’s Prop 12 legislation came into force on January 1, establishing stricter production standards including the provision of greater freedom of movement for pigs. Prop 12 bans the sale of pork from the offspring of sows kept in pens that do not provide 24 square feet per sow. The legislation prevents the sale in the State of pig meat that does not meet the new criteria.
Only a small fraction of US pig producers are compliant – just 4%, according to one report, with the new regulations, therefore, opening up opportunities for other countries to supply a state with a population of around 40 million.
In late-November, NSF, the Certification Body (CB) for Red Tractor pigs, announced that it can now offer Prop 12 certification for UK pork. Red Tractor’s existing ‘outdoor bred’ Core Standards comply, while indoor breeding units do not automatically comply, but can achieve Prop 12 certification if they provide additional space.
Six UK pig meat exporters have now travelled with AHDB to California on a five-day trade mission to meet and do business with several key buyers. The mission includes meetings with several quality meat distributors, wholesalers and visiting major supermarkets, including the second largest chain in North America, providing the perfect platform to showcase quality British pig meat produced to the highest standards.
Susana Morris, AHDB senior trade Ddevelopment manager, said: “With 40% of our pig production bred outdoors, the introduction of Proposition 12 in California has the potential to create significant export opportunities for British pig meat exporters. It emphasises how important animal welfare is to consumers and the great work that our farmers and the industry in general are doing.
“California has a population of circa 40 million, with 15% of US pig meat production consumed there. However, US domestic production is unlikely to be able to meet demand in California for pig meat produced to the new higher standards in the short term.
“British pig meat producers are, however, well placed to meet some of this demand and our trade mission is aimed at helping our industry showcase our world-class produce and maximise this new opportunity.
“Other States are also making similar proposals to California and therefore further opportunities could present themselves more widely in the US in the future. Again, our pig meat sector will be in a strong position to meet this demand as and when it comes to fruition. In the meantime, we look forward to this mission bearing fruit.
“Our levy payers have made it very clear how much they value AHDB’s export activity and our latest mission is a further demonstration of how we are working with industry to help deliver tangible outcomes for the pig meat sector.”
Prop 12 has caused huge ructions within the US pig sector. In a statement, leading pork producers from Illinois said Prop 12 will ‘undoubtedly raise the cost of producing pork’, jeopardising the entire Illinois pig industry, worth $3.3 billion.
“This law could cost us and my fellow Illinois hog farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply – at a time when we’re already losing money on every hog we sell,” they said.