Pork farmers aim to triple domestic consumption

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A pig farm (photo: courtesy of Matthias Zomer)

Matthias ZomerIn a collaborative effort involving the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association (JPFA) and partners in the processing/distribution sector, a concerted push is underway to significantly elevate pork consumption within the domestic market. According to a news release, the inauguration of the JPFA’s “Pork Jamaica” campaign, hosted at the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries grounds in Kingston on 28 November, featured President Hanif Brown initially proposing a “modest” increase from the current 4.2 kilograms per capita annually to eight kilos per capita over five years.

But, Col. (retired) Jamie Ogilvie, vice president of Hi-Pro Feeds Limited, advocated for a more ambitious target in his presentation, asserting that the goal should be at least 15 kilograms per capita, representing more than triple the current amount, within the same timeframe. This sentiment was shared by keynote speaker State Minister for Agriculture Franklin Witter who emphasized the imperative nature of a campaign to boost domestic consumption. Witter, along with Brown and Ogilvie, aligned the target with both regional benchmarks—Barbados (13.7 kg per capita), St Lucia (14.8 kg per capita), Cuba (21.6 kg), Antigua (14.9 kg), and the Dominican Republic (11.9 kg)—and global figures, which averaged between 40 and 50 kilograms per capita, annually.

Acknowledging the JPFA’s efforts in elevating per capita consumption from 2.9 kilograms to the current level, Minister Witter pledged ongoing support from the ministry in this vital campaign. He emphasized the necessity of increasing the consumption of local foods, including pork, to achieve food security. Witter commended the JPFA, government support, and industry stakeholders for advancements in pig genetics, feed quality, training, pig security, and market access. He highlighted the ministry’s commitment through recent funding, including a $25 million allocation to the College of Agriculture, Science, and Education (CASE) in Portland for a feed storage house and piggery improvements. Addressing the government’s commitment to altering public perceptions about the industry, Witter pointed to initiatives such as the “Eat Jamaican” campaign, synergising logically with the pork farmers’ campaign.

Industry leaders present at the launch, including CPJ, Arosa Limited, Nations Choice, CB Group (Copperwood and Nutramix brands), and Hi-Pro, reiterated their support for increasing pork consumption. President Brown of the JPFA highlighted the association’s achievements, paralleling those of developed nations, with notable improvements in carcass size and pork quality. Despite these advancements, Brown acknowledged an excess in pork production relative to demand, emphasizing the need to address this disparity. The restaurant sector echoed the significant growth potential for the pork industry, with Gariel Ferguson of Rib Kage expressing confidence in meeting proposed consumption targets through increased collaboration with the restaurant trade and engaging end-users through demonstrations and similar initiatives.

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