Page 11 - Australian Pork Newspaper
P. 11

A conversation about consumers
officially ratifies
TPP-11 trade deal
AUSTRALIA has ratified the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) trade agree- ment, making it the sixth country to offi- cially join the historic deal.
With six countries now having ratified the agreement, the 60-day countdown for the agreement to come into effect has begun.
It will enter into force on December 30 this year.
Australia joins Can- ada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Sin- gapore as part of the first group to ratify.
The TPP-11 removes 98 percent of tariffs for the 11 signatory countries and covers 13 percent of the world economy.
Alongside the first six countries already ratified, the agreement will include Brunei, Chile, Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Australia’s ratifica- tion came within a day of the November 1 deadline.
Having formalised the agreement prior to the deadline will mean Australia will be party to two tariff cuts on December 30, 2018 and January 1, 2019.
Federal trade minis- ter Simon Birmingham
said the TPP-11 was one of the most com- prehensive trade agree- ments in Australia’s re- cent history.
“Australian export- ers of industrial prod- ucts such as iron and steel, leather and paper products and medical equipment, who cur- rently sell $19 billion worth of products to TPP-11 markets, will be able to grow their businesses without facing a tariff disad- vantage,” Birmingham said.
Birmingham said modelling showed Australia is forecast to see $15.6 billion in net annual benefits to na- tional income by 2030 from the TPP-11.
“Australian farmers and businesses will particularly benefit from new high-quality free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, our first ever with these two of the world’s top-20 econo- mies,” he said.
“For example, the agreement will provide new access to the Ca- nadian market for our grains, sugar and beef exporters.
“It will open up the growing Mexican mar- ket for our pork, wheat, sugar, barley and horti- culture producers.”
AS Australian pig farm- ing moves relentlessly, or, as some would have it, arguably, towards more animal welfare-friendly production systems, how consumers behave at the meat counter and the checkout when selecting their protein of choice will become the real measure of sustainable and profitable ‘progress’ for our piggeries.
With that in mind, and being part of numerous conversations on that sub- ject with my work in the pork and beef sectors in particular, I was intrigued with the editorial below, first published mid-Oc- tober on The Conversa- tion and co-authored by University of Sydney PhD student Amelia Cornish and Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science Paul Mc- Greevy.
Read on.
“Australians clearly care about animal welfare: our research has found 92 per- cent of shoppers in Sydney considered animal welfare to be important.
However, when we look at the distribution of mar- ket share of so-called high-welfare foods in Australia, we get a varied picture.
Aussie shoppers seem to care far more about free- range eggs than the living conditions of pigs, cows and broilers (meat poul- try).
Free-range eggs now ac- count for more than 40 percent of all eggs sold in Australia.
This contrasts with only a 14 percent mar- ket share for free-range poultry and even less for pork, with only 5 percent
Cant Comment by BRENDON CANT
coming from pigs raised outdoors.
Modern Australians are far removed from the pro- duction of their food.
A round 95 percent of meat chickens and pigs eaten in Australia live on intensive farms, where huge numbers of animals are kept in small enclosed areas.
This means we are large- ly divorced from the price animals pay in becoming our food.
If we care about the wel- fare of the animals we eat, why don’t we buy foods that come from animals that were treated well?
And why are we buy- ing eggs that reflect higher welfare but not other ani- mal-based foods?
This incongruence is an example of what is re- ferred to as the attitude- behaviour gap, or the dis-
parity between what we say and what we do.
Many of us love animals, but buy the cheapest meat at the supermarket.
This may be simply be- cause all the different la- bels about welfare stand- ards are too confusing, or it might be a consequence of the considerable price disparity.
We also know when a researcher asks shoppers if they’d pay more for free-range, he or she may receive disingenuous an- swers.
We often like the idea we’ll do the ‘right’ thing, and until we’re forced to put our money where our mouth is, it costs nothing to say we would behave honourably.
Even with the best inten- tions, it can be hard to know how the cows and pigs we eat are raised.
Australian legislation doesn’t require produc- ers to disclose fully their farming methods, such as the use of sow stalls.
Sow stalls are highly confined housing that pregnant pigs are kept in.
Promisingly, Austral- ian Pork Limited has said Aussie farmers are volun- tarily phasing them out.
Shoppers can easily be left in the dark about the animal welfare implica- tions of certain foods or, worse, misled by an array of labels, claims or certifi- cations that are essentially meaningless.
When it comes to pork and bacon, Aussie con- sumers are afforded no legally enforceable defi- nitions for pig husbandry systems.
Currently, upwards of 95 percent of all pigs grown in Australia have
no outdoor access.
When pigs are reared in-
doors, their stocking den- sities (number of animals per unit floor area) have a direct impact on farmers’ profit margins.
Overcrowding and tail- biting in confined pigs are among the chief welfare concerns that drive con- sumers to pay a price pre- mium for free-range pork and bacon.
But there is a growing trend towards use of the rather opaque term ‘out- door-bred’.
This denotes that piglets are born outdoors, but when weaned, at about 21 days of age, they are transferred to sheds where they spend the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, most con- sumers are unaware of the true conditions behind this label and think it indicates the animals spend all their lives ranging freely.
Bred free-range is such a misleading term that Australia’s consumer watchdog has pushed for the inclusion of the words ‘Raised indoors on straw’ to make it clear- er to consumers that the pigs are born outdoors but raised indoors from wean- ing until slaughter.
The stocking densities on Australian farms are governed by the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Pigs.
However, for outdoor pigs, the code only offers ‘recommended’ maximum stocking densities.
Thus there is really no way of knowing how much space ‘free-range’ pigs oc- cupy, unless you study the details of accreditation or assurance schemes.
Australian shoppers now see plenty of information
on egg cartons, which raises our awareness and, in turn, the demand for higher-welfare eggs.
This high demand lowers the price, and the attitude- behaviour gap shrinks a little when it comes to eggs.
Free-range eggs sell at a lower price premium than other high-welfare animal-based foods.
For example, intensively farmed cage eggs will cost you about $3.50 per dozen, yet for just an extra dollar or two you can buy free- range eggs.
This contrasts sharply with intensively farmed chicken meat, which will generally cost you $7 per kg for breast fillets, while the free-range counterpart sits at around $16/kg.
If you are confused about this disparity, so are we!
That’s why we are ex- ploring the extent of the attitude-behaviour gap in Australia and have launched an online survey.
We need you to tell us how labelling around ani- mal welfare influences your shopping decisions.
Welfare-friendly shop- ping involves avoiding foods that have been pro- duced using practices such as so-called battery cages (for egg production) and sow stalls (for pork pro- duction).
With the attitude-be- haviour gap in mind, it’s important to find high- er-welfare products by looking for labels such as RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, Humane Choice or FREPA, just to name a few.
But we should also be demanding clearer labels.”
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Australian Pork Newspaper, November 2018 – Page 11

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