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INTERVIEW -- Pork CRC Research is Key to Improving Global Competitiveness.

February 1 2010 -- Roger Campbell is the chief executive officer of Australian pork research organisation the Pork Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). It is his job to direct research across the Australian pork industry and to ensure new technologies arising from the research is communicated to producers. The Pork CRC also encourages adoption of new technologies by the industry and aims, where applicable, to commercialise any relevant intellectual property developed in through research.

In an interview with Feedinfo News Service, Mr Campbell discusses the latest market trends in the Australian pork industry as well as the current research projects undertaken by the Pork CRC.


(Feedinfo News Service) It has been widely reported that reduced consumer spending power has resulted in reduced meat purchasing. Is this your analysis of the situation?

(Roger Campbell) The demand for pork is strong in Australia and there is little evidence that the consumption/purchase of pork has been adversely affected by recent economic and other events.


(Feedinfo News Service) Can you provide an overview of the current research undertaken by the Pork CRC? What are the aims of the research?

(Roger Campbell) The aims are to improve the global competitiveness of the Australian industry. In the area of grains and reducing feed costs, the Pork CRC has successfully invested in the development of pig specific feed grains (high yield and high energy contents) in processing technologies to increase the energy/nutrients available from grains and in Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) technology to rapidly determine the energy and other nutrient contents of grains. We have developed new technologies and intellectual property (IP) in all these areas.

In the area of improving the efficiency of production, we have invested in animal health, genetics, enhancing protein deposition, improving piglet survival and post weaning performance and in improving sow longevity and reproductive performance.

Advances have been made in most areas and through our benchmarking project we have seen whole herd feed efficiency improve by 10-15 per cent. In the area of establishing the human health benefits of pork, we have invested in the role of pork in improving the health of type 2 diabetics (thiamine and weight loss effects), the effect of the low calorie protein ratio of pork on weight control and heart health, the role of pork in overcoming iron deficiency in young women and the role of pork in satiety and weight loss. The results suggest pork has advantages over other meats in all these areas.

The final program deals with education and training. The Pork CRC has trained some 30 undergraduates (honours students) and 24 postgraduates within our research projects.

(Feedinfo News Service) What research is the Pork CRC undertaking with regard to animal feed?

(Roger Campbell) The main areas have been in the development of pig specific feed grains, the development of new processing technologies to increase the energy extracted from grains and in the development of NIRS calibrations to rapidly determine the energy value of grains. We have released two new pig specific feed grains (barley and one triticale) and a new pea variety (Maki). In processing, we have developed and tested a system for reducing the percentage of large particles in ground grain. The latter improved the feed efficiency of pigs which were offered barley and sorghum based diets by 8.2% and 10.5% respectively.

The NIRS calibrations developed by the Pork CRC enable the digestible energy (DE) content of grains (barley ,wheat ,sorghum and triticale) to be measured with an accuracy of 0.27 MJ/kg which is as accurate as measuring the value in metabolism studies except the answer is available in minutes not months. The calibrations have the potential to revolutionise the trading of feed grains and the accuracy and cost effectiveness of diet formulation. The calibrations cover pigs, poultry and ruminants and the variation in the available energy content within a grain (e.g. wheat) has been found to vary by 2.5-3.0 MJ/kg for pigs and to exceed 3.0 MJ/kg for poultry.

(Feedinfo News Service) You have said that Australian pig farmers escaped potential disaster due to H1N1. Could you expand on this statement please?

(Roger Campbell) Australian pork producers avoided potential "disaster" (declining demand) because of the response and actions of Australian Pork Limited (the industry body) to the H1N1 situation. The industry had one voice and one message as the situation unfolded and consumer fears were allayed using the approach which was based on fact and science. Future security of the industry will rely on government and the industry having "disaster" actions plans in place and reacting quickly and in a cohesive fashion to any future threats to the industry.

(Feedinfo News Service) You have been quoted as saying 2009 resulted in a turnaround in the fortunes of Australian pig farmers? How will pork prices behave in the coming months?

(Roger Campbell) The turnaround resulted from a contraction in the size of the industry and supply which resulted in pork prices increasing 30-40%. The latter reflects the large underlying demand for fresh pork in Australia and enabled most remaining producers to overcome the higher grain and feed costs which affected pork production globally. Grain prices also fell in 2009 whilst pork prices remained at their higher levels throughout the year resulting in good margins across the industry.

Pork prices remained buoyant through the Christmas and New Year periods into 2010 and, providing supply does not increase markedly over the next two quarters, prices should remain at much higher levels than for the corresponding period over the recent past. Grain prices remain at or below longer term levels in Australia and will do so for the first half of 2010 suggesting that, unless there is an unexpected decline in demand, pork production in Australia should remain profitable through 2010.
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Publication:Feedinfo News Service
Date:Feb 1, 2010
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