Wetenschap - 15 januari 2015

‘Pig of tomorrow’ may take longer

Albert Sikkema

The development of the ‘Pig of Tomorrow’, which is farmed to new welfare and environmental standards, has reached an impasse. Pig farmers, abattoirs and supermarkets cannot agree on the added value of this meat, sector magazine Boerderij reported last month. But LEI researcher Robert Hoste is optimistic: he says the pork will be on the shelves by the end of this year.

‘A few years ago the supermarkets agreed to include sustainable meat in their assortment,’ says Hoste, pig production economist at the LEI. ‘NGOs such as animal rights organization Wakker Dier are now putting pressure on the supermarkets to keep their promises.’

Are the supermarkets doing nothing then?

‘The market leader Albert Heijn is already buying ‘Better Life’ meat from VION. That is pork for which there are extra welfare standards but not really any environmental criteria. The suppliers could quite easily upgrade the ‘Better Life’ meat to ‘Pig of Tomorrow’ meat, but the added value seems to be the bottleneck.’

Why isn’t the added value fixed centrally?

‘Because that is not allowed; it would count as cartel formation. The Central Bureau for the Food Trade, the supermarkets’ branch organization, has negotiated with campaigners, abattoirs and the farming sector organization LTO about the Pig of Tomorrow, but is not allowed to make price agreements – the supermarkets have to do that unilaterally with their suppliers. The sticking point is that the supermarkets are not yet very eager to buy sustainable meat. Nobody seems to want to be the first to buy sustainable meat, because you might lose customers that way. Meat is and will remain a big draw for supermarket customers.’

Is the project a failure now?

‘I don’t think so. I expect campaigning groups such as Wakker Dier and Varkens in Nood will carry on putting pressure on the supermarkets. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ‘Pig of Tomorrow’ is sorted in six months’ time, so that the meat is on the shelves by the end of 2015.’