Cambodia could do more to import better breeding pigs, suggests a study by IRL Research prepared for FAO. Cambodian consumers increasingly favour lean pork, but the country’s mainly small-scale producers tend to choose inexpensive breeds and feed options that do not yield the leaner meat demanded by the market.

Pig breeds yielding higher proportions of lean meat are moderately available (though currently undersupplied) in the Cambodian marketplace, says the report. They are not always practical choices, because they are less adaptable to
the least-cost feeding scenarios to which producers must resort when price instability makes returns uncertain. Imported breeds are also typically more susceptible to disease and require higher variable capital inputs (medicines, vaccines and higher-quality feed) to survive and produce adequate yields.

The Cambodian pig industry is described as starting to regroup following a period of extreme difficulty caused by the unregulated importation of large volumes of pigs from Vietnam in 2004-2006. A complete ban on importing pigs and pig products was introduced in August of 2007. Since then, local pork prices have moved to record highs.

But the research found that Cambodia suffers from an average18% per kilogram cost disadvantage in manufactured/commercial feed relative to the neighbouring country of Vietnam and has a much narrower range of available products.  Cambodian feed and veterinary medicine suppliers also contribute to higher prices.

The publication offers a comparison of the pig sector in Cambodia with those of neighbours Thailand and Vietnam. It suggests that the Cambodian chain suffers from a number of competitive disadvantages which include higher input prices, despite Cambodia producing and exporting feed materials. Its sector also is composed mainly of small producers with low productivity, the report suggests, and has the least developed domestic market for pork of any the 3 countries.