In an ever-shrinking world, international co-operation becomes ever-easier, and in a world where costs are on an increasingly tight rein, co-operation becomes all the more important.
Sharing knowledge and resources has proved itself again and again as a successful strategy where producers, in any industry, are faced with markets that are simply too big, or too costly to tackle single-handedly. One only has to look at the proliferation of industry associations to see how these bodies are able to tackle issues that most companies would find simply too challenging to address on their own.
In our ever-smaller, ever-more connected world, bi- and multi-lateral arrangements and agreements will be the way forward.
One such initiative is currently taking place between Danish and UK pig producers, and brings together commercial and academic organizations in both countries to pool ideas.
This, however, does not mean an end to competition between the two industries. Dr Mike Varley, of the British Pig Executive, argues that there are many non-competitive areas, such as health, processing, management and welfare where the two industries can work together and learn a lot from each other.
Producers in many countries are facing similar issues and so cross border initiatives can help to solve these problems and take producers in a variety of locations forward.
The UK/Denmark initiative has seen UK representatives visiting Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council (DAFC), and DAFC officials and members visiting the UK’s Pig Research Centre to engage in initial fact-finding discussions.
Dr Varley comments: “Of course, we will carry on competing against Denmark in the global market place, but I don’t think that should stop us working together where possible to strengthen the industry as a whole.”
Additionally, Denmark has a strong interest in ensuring a healthy UK pig market. Not only is the country a well-established supplier – I remember television advertisements for Danish bacon being broadcast some 30 years ago – it is also the second largest supplier to UK consumers. Working with UK producers, whether it be generally to promote pork consumption or in developing positions regarding regulations and legislation should benefit both groups.
Danish producers have a long history of working together. DAFC vice-chairman, Asger Krogsgaard comments: “Over here, we talk to each other all the time and we would like to start talking to UK producers too. I really don’t see UK pig farmers as my competitors. I see them as colleagues and think we should work together on strategies to help boost consumption in the UK.”
In addition, when national borders become pervious, the nationality of production or processing facilities may no longer be national, so any overseas owner will have an interest in securing the future of the local industry as opposed to, or alongside, the home industry.
This knowledge sharing, of course, has broader implications than simply improving industry’s position on its home market. Sharing knowledge and resources can only make it easier to penetrate emerging larger markets such as China.
So perhaps co-operation needs to be revisited, and there needs to be more sharing of knowledge and resources to secure the future of the industry. Is it now time for a European Pork Council, or an Asian Pork Council, or even a world Pork Council?