Pork is one of the most widely consumed meats around the world and in Australia accounts for about 12% of fresh meat consumption.
Australia produces around 360,000 tonnes of pig meat a year with around 8% of this exported to other countries including Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong. While all fresh pork meat sold in Australia is also grown in Australia, around 70% of processed pork products, such as ham and bacon, are made from pork imported from overseas.
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics reports that Australia’s pig industry has a farm gate value of just over one billion dollars with just over 2,700 producers deriving an income from growing pigs. Commercial production of pigs is capital- and labour-intensive requiring a range of infrastructure and husbandry skills. As with any animal production in Australia, there are legal requirements producers must comply especially regarding animal welfare.
There are a number of options for on-farm pig production. Large scale specialist pig producers manage the full cycle from breeding to selling. However, other options include contract growing (providing the sheds and labour to rear someone else’s pigs) or joining an alliance of producers and investing in a share of production. Another option if only keeping a small number of pigs is to buy weaners or stores and rear them to saleable age and weight.
The domestic and export markets for Australian pork are relatively steady. Food safety requirements for pork mean that only pigs produced in Australia can be sold as fresh meat on the domestic market, providing some security for domestic supply, although there is always pressure to allow imports. Domestic consumption of fresh pork meat is on average 207,000 tonnes per year with producers receiving just over AU$3.00 per kilogram at the farm gate.
On the export market, Australian producers compete with countries who receive subsidies of up to 79%, however the high quality of Australian produced pork meat, due to the high biosecurity standards, could be the key to maintaining and increasing export markets.
The national industry body for Australian pig farmers is Australian Pork Limited (APL) which is a producer-owned company delivering integrated marketing, innovation and policy services along the pork industry supply chain.
Facts and figures
- Australia produces around 360,000 tonnes of pig meat per year of which around 8% is exported
- All fresh pork meat sold in Australia is produced domestically
- The industry reports that China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea offer the best market opportunities for increasing Australian exports
- Piggeries are labour intensive and require land, access to roads, electricity and water
- As with any animal production, there are a range of legal requirements related to the care and transport of pigs
Pigs are farmed commercially in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. There are around 2,700 pig producers in Australia, ranging from small-scale pig keepers through to large commercial operations. The majority of this production is under intensive indoor housing systems with about 5% of commercial breeding sows certified as Free Range and about 5% certified as Outdoor Bred.
For more detailed information on the status of pig production in Australia, visit Australian Pig Farmers.