The international pig industry will be able to meet the global food demands of the growing population over the next 28 years and beyond, but it must address the issue of slaughtering capacity and look to transforming relationships between pig meat suppliers and retailers, according to former Pig International editor and respected industry observer Peter Best.

Best presented the Royal Agricultural College 100 Club's annual fellowship in pig research report, "Is the pig industry capable of meeting global food demands 2020/2030." He said world pig meat demand could grow by nearly 50 million metric tons in the next two decades, and international agencies see pig meat accounting for almost 155 metric tons of the 410 million metric tons of all meats required worldwide by 2030. Right now, three quarters of pig meat consumed worldwide is produced in China, Europe and the U.S.

“They are the top consumers and also the largest producers; each of them is virtually self-sufficient, or even a net exporter," said Best. "By 2020, the combined pig meat output of the Big Three could reach 100 million metric tons for the first time. “For the global pig industry to produce another 50 million metric tons by 2030 is achievable when judged entirely on technical considerations at pig-unit level, given the industry’s resources of genetics, feeds and management."

Best said he discovered "real optimism" in the pig industry, which he believes is more than ready to face up to the challenges of the future, but for world production to progress substantially, national pig industries that still include a large backyard portion must find a way of replacing those animal number quickly as the backyard disappear. Insufficient slaughter capacity could slow the rate at which pig production expands and will depress prices, he said. In addition, the relationship between pig meat suppliers and food retailers could be transformed as both segments consolidate and integrate, with producers and processors taking control of the retailing of their pig meat.

Overall, Best said the pig industry must strengthen its voice so that it can be heard at the highest levels when new international regulations or initiatives are discussed and, more locally, whenever there is an opportunity for constructive dialogue with consumers.

Full copies of the report (£20 including postage and packaging) are available from info@rac100club.com.