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Fiji Time: 12:07 AM on Monday 22 September

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Cheap imported pork a threat to local industry

Ioane Burese
Thursday, February 21, 2013

THE Fiji Pig Association, Fiji Meat Industry Board and Fiji Master Butchers Association are working with the government to counter the effects of cheap imported processed pork that is "seriously threatening the survival of the industry".

Among measures being considered is the introduction of a 32 per cent duty on all processed pork products entering the country.

An official said the market continued to be distorted with the indirect entry of bacon made in Australia from subsidised Canadian and European pork that sold far below the very best price the industry could offer.

"We believe these measures are necessary as we are talking about the very survival of an important industry to Fiji," said association president Simon Cole, who's also interim chairman of the Fiji Crop & Livestock Council, which is supporting the association.

"We have continued to hold talks with government and they well understand our challenge," he said.

"It has seen the positive results when it introduced a 32 per cent duty on imported chicken, so it is well aware of the benefits of introducing a duty on imported pig products."

Mr Cole said presently Fiji's pig industry supplied 80 per cent of all requirements, ensuring food security in pork and helping to protect foreign reserves by producing and value-adding locally.

The estimated value, according to a recent EU report, is about $32million to the country in 2012. To achieve these results the industry has invested more than $16m.

"The result from the imports has forced big pig farmers to begin downsizing to cut costs, but the real danger is to the small farmers who cannot compete in this distorted marketplace and many could be closed within months," said Mr Cole.

Pricing is best illustrated by what subsidising does to competition.

Subsidised Canadian pork, (that is a reduction in the cost of producing the pork with government's help), is priced at $3.05 per kilo.

Compare this with non-subsidised pork that costs $5.20 to produce in Australia and the $5.70 it costs to produce in Fiji.

"We would be happy if we were competing on a level playing field. In fact, we welcome the competition, but when we are facing subsidised pork products that seriously undercut the market, we need to protect our industry," Mr Cole said.


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