Pig farmers create ‘quality label’ to promote pork meat

Portugal’s trouble-torn pig farming sector is going to create a “quality label” entitled ‘Porco.PT’ to be awarded only to the best pork meat produced nationally.

The goal is to encourage producers to elevate the quality of their pork meat to a “level of excellence”.

Producers will have to comply with a long list of quality standards to obtain the label, however, including the food their pigs eat, the way their animals are transported and treated, and the way the meat is later distributed and sold.

If all goes according to plan, the label will start being attributed at the start of 2017.

“We want pig farmers to want to stand out. We want people to try pork meat, think it is tasty and want to try it again tomorrow,” said João Correia, spokesperson for Portugal’s Gabinete de Crise dos Suinicultores (GCS), a working group set up to deal with the issues the national meat industry is facing, such as major chains buying their meat “cheap” and a lack of subsidies.

Things have been slowly picking up, however. At the start of 2016, pork meat was being sold by producers for €1.05 per kilo. Now it is up to €1.65 and €1.70 – a sum that while “acceptable” is not yet what producers consider adequate.

Correia also told Lusa news agency that supermarkets are now more careful to specify which meats are produced nationally. He explained that many supermarket-goers used to buy foreign meat thinking that it was Portuguese.

Despite this, the situation is still grave. Correia says the sector has lost around 20,000 direct and indirect jobs and believes many others will follow if conditions do not change for the better soon.

Correia’s statements came on Saturday (September 24) during a promotional event in Lisbon’s Parque da Nações that gave people a chance to taste roasted pork.