Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Know Your Pork - CB moves to educate Jamaicans about the other white meat

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Craig Plunkett (left), sales manager for CB Foods, proudly shows off a package of the Know Your Pork brand to a customer, pointing out the information contained in the nutrition panel.
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The Caribbean Broilers (CB) Group is taking its efforts to have potential customers make informed choices to another level, with its Know Your Pork campaign.

Know Your Pork is a new education campaign and movement led by the group's Copperwood Pork brand aimed at teaching Jamaicans about the need to consume quality, responsibly and sustainably sourced pork.

The campaign aims to uplift the industry, boosting pork consumption by calling on consumers to know where their pork comes from and to eat more of the delicious and affordable protein.

For most customers, the price point is always going to be a major decisive factor, especially with competing priorities for the household dollar, but CB wants the public to start thinking beyond the price per pound of this very popular protein.

Are you buying stolen, possibly tainted meat, thereby ending up with a bad deal, at a very good (cheap) price?

The company wants consumers to think on these things, Tina Hamilton, Nutramix brand manager, told The Gleaner.

Hamilton pointed out that the company has been ongoing in its livestock investment, putting in the necessary checks and balances every step of the way from farm to production in order to ensure that consumers purchase products they can identify and trace back to origin.

"Consumers can make a difference, and stakeholders involved in the Know Your Pork campaign believe they have a right to know where their pork comes from, so they can play their part in supporting honest, hard working farmers. The fact is, responsible farmers feed their animals safe feeds, and consumers have a right to know what, and how the animals are fed.

"Knowing where the meat comes from, how it's processed, and how it's raised is key to this. Encouraging consumers to 'Know Their Pork' is about encouraging them to be directly involved in their own health and nutrition. Further, farmers that adhere to responsible feeding practices experience higher growth rates and efficiencies, lower costs and higher profits - which leads directly to a more sustainable industry, and critical for the homemaker - stable prices from a market less susceptible to swings when irresponsible farmers are forced out of the market.

 

MEAT IMPORTS STEALING JOBS 

 

It is estimated that $73.4 billion worth of meat is imported into Jamaica each year. Each dollar represents income - real jobs - taken away from Jamaican farmers and the wider agricultural sector. Jamaica's current fiscal challenges call for reduced reliance on imports, and increased consumption of locally produced meat, but often, consumers, even those who prefer to 'Buy Jamaican', aren't able to discern the difference.

Properly labelled and packaged meats allow consumers to easily identify locally produced and sustainably sourced foods. This is no different for the pork industry, which has only seen its first branded pork offering within the last decade with Copperwood Pork's entry into the market. When consumers know their meat is Jamaican grown, they know they are investing in Jamaica.

Hamilton said the dollars spent nationally on imported meat products could send three million children to early childhood schools, and buy 8,000 brand new school buses.

 

30-YEAR STRUGGLE

 

The Jamaican pig industry has been struggling for more than 30 years - constantly in a state of over- or under-supply. Previously mentioned threats from imports, praedial larceny, and lack of set health and safety standards have led to a fragmented industry. This fragmented industry is inherently volatile, and farmers face high risks of failure. When farmers exit the market suddenly - there is a shortage, resulting in high prices and losses for processors and the consumer.

The Know Your Pork campaign has sought to demonstrate new ways and means of preparing pork by sharing new and interesting recipes with the public demonstrations and sampling at numerous events and with the first ever pork production seminar at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester.

The event focused on helping farmers get the knowledge they need to produce better market animals, realise greater efficiencies, and meet the ongoing challenges facing the traditionally volatile Jamaican pig industry.

More than 85 farmers from across the island attended.

The CB Group, which purchases pigs on the open market for its fresh Copperwood Pork and ready-to-eat Caribbean Passion brands, also raises its own pigs for processing. It seeks to share best practices learnt through its integrated approach with all Jamaican pig farmers, with the end goal of creating a more sustainable industry.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com