July 31, 2008


Italy's pig industry suffers on high costs, consumers buying cheaper ham


The Italian pig industry, particularly its traditional Parma ham industry, has been dealt a double blow as production costs are higher and consumers are turning to cheaper varieties of ham, reported agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad.


Costs for Parma ham production are about 20 percent higher than conventional pig production as pigs reared for Parma ham are slaughtered at nine months or earlier, at a weight of about 160 kilogrammes.


Parma hams are being sold in Rome for about €24 (US$37.40) per kilogramme, but prices can double to €50 (US$77.95). Exports stand at 20 percent and the increase is slow.


With high feed prices and energy costs, Italy's pig producers "hardly yield any profit", said Giandomenico Gusmaroli, chairman of the Italian Union of pig producers (ANAS), adding that the industry is now in crisis.


Ham production used to make the difference for producers, with other pork products sold as by-products. However, profit margins on hams have diminished, Gusmaroli said.


These other pork products should be sold against better prices, he said.


Italy is a net importer of pork and pigs as in 2007, when the country imported 967,000 tonnes of pork and 785,000 piglets.

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