High feed prices result in ham crisis

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Monday, August 04, 2008

The Italian pig industry is going through a deep crisis as feed prices cause higher production costs, which hits the traditional Parma ham industry extra hard, a Dutch agricultural newspaper reports.

Pigs reared for Parma ham production are being slaughtered at a minimum of nine months and weigh about 160 kg - hence cost prices of this industry are about 20% higher than conventional pig production. Italian consumers, known for their preference for high-quality foods, are now being said to shift to different, cheaper varieties of 'prosciutto', as they call ham in Italy.

Parma hams are being sold in Rome for about € 24/kg, but prices can raise up to € 50. Exports are about 20% and rising only slowly. Giandomenico Gusmaroli, chairman of the Italian union of pig producers (ANAS), said: “The quick growth in feed and energy prices have led to an eruption in an already critical situation. Our products with traceability guarantee s - our pride - hardly yield any profit and production legislation makes it even more difficult.” Ham production used to make the difference for producers, and other pork could be sold as by-products. Nowadays, however, profit margins on hams have gone, Gusmaroli explained. These other pork products should be sold against better prices, he said. Italy is a net importer of pork and pigs as in 2007, the country imported 967,000 tonnes of pork and 785,000 piglets.