AGRICULTURE

ZAMBEEF DOUBLES FARM-GATE PIG PRICES TO TACKLE PORK SHORTAGE

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LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Pig farmers have seen prices from Zambeef double in the last year as the nation’s leading buyer fights to keep pace with sustained increases in demand and encourage more people to rear livestock. Continued consumer demand and a drop in pig supply due to outbreaks of swine fever, the drought experienced in 2019/20 pushing feed ingredient prices up, and the recent sharp increases in the cost of pig feed due to currency depreciation and the export of soybeans have spurred the company to offer farmers top prices for their animals, explained Zambeef Chief Executive Officer Walter Roodt.

Through its Masterpork subsidiary, the company has also been forced to buy some higher end pork cuts such as pork ribs and dressed pigs from local pork supply companies to keep pace with demand. At present, 90% of the pigs slaughtered at Masterpork come from large and emerging pig farmers around Lusaka. The balance is supplied from the internal Zambeef pig farm, but still the Masterpork pig abattoir is only running at half its design capacity due to the shortages.

Pig farmers are seeing at least 50% profit margins on their stock as pork production has become increasingly profitable, but the industry still needs aggressive investment and development, as current levels of supply don’t go nearly close to meeting demand, said Mr Roodt, who urged local farmers to move quickly to fill the gaps that the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered in the nation’s food supply chain if they are to take advantage of the rising opportunities for growth in the agriculture and agro-processing industries. The shortage of pork products is further evidenced by the imported bacon, polony and other pork products on shelves in supermarkets. The importation of value-added pork and milk products continues to be an area of concern for the industry, while also highlighting the need for further investment.

Zambeef has of last year doubled the price it pays local farmers to help boost home-grown production and encourage more participation in the sector. And while prices vary depending on grading category, with larger pigs over 80kg liveweight normally commanding a premium of up to K50/kg of cold carcass mass, Zambeef pays the highest prices in the country. The company is committed to improving the management of the procurement of pigs and has demonstrated its keenness to buy from local farmers by sending trucks to collect the pigs wherever possible and paying in cash for it within seven days, said Masterpork Factory Manager Augustine Sambo.

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