The attitude towards boar meat ranges from full acceptance to strong resistance. In general, in countries in which animal welfare and sustainability are important, the acceptance of boar meat is higher. At the same time there are markets which have an emotional resistance to boar meat, because boars were castrated for decades as a standard procedure by the assumption thus preventing boar taint. It requires a lot of communication efforts and substantiated scientific research to refute this prejudice.
Both welfare and sustainability play a particularly important role in the (North) West European market which is financially strong and where production conditions are considered in the overall quality perception. In Southern Europe – so far – only the product quality is the decisive factor and animal welfare and sustainability play a less prominent role. It is a challenge for the farmers, slaughterhouses and processing industry to find a good balance. This is crucial because all parts of the pig are sold worldwide on various markets. So even in markets that have less attention for animal welfare and sustainability for which they do not wish to pay.
In the Netherlands, many studies have been carried out to confirm the reliability of the HNS system to determine a different odor. The Dutch retail is satisfied with the method. The method has already proven its reliability for several years.
Slaughter houses are mainly worried that their customers reject boar meat in advance. It is mainly an emotional resistance and perception to boar meat. Not against the control method as such.
We cannot comment on individual market parties and their guarantees. With careful monitoring by trained inspectors of the HNS system it is possible to determine the abnormal smelling pork and to process that meat for other purposes then fresh meat. Measurements show an average of 3% boar taint. Slaughterhouses are responsible for ensuring that the meat they deliver is of the right quality.
Apparently the emotional resistance against boar meat is in some countries or markets that strong that suppliers do not talk about it. They in advance fear complaints and a lower selling price.
The fact is that castration is done for decades from the assumption that boar taint is a common issue. Long and intensive European scientific research shows that the current situation is completely different. It is very well possible to keep boars and manage boar taint as well. It requires continuous and transparent communication to all European stakeholders in the production chain to explain about boar meat, the quality and control.
Also, information and communication on the quality assurance and control system during the slaughter process is required to build confidence in high-quality pork from male pigs.
Non-castration of piglets is a societal and political-market issue. All stakeholders are involved: pig farmers, slaughterhouses, the feed sector, customers in retail, industry and out-of-home markets, the national and European politics, NGOs and consumer organizations. Non-castration results in a higher level of animal welfare and sustainability. This is a general interest where everyone carries some responsibility.
European politicians have discussed this subject. Together with European industry parties the ambition has been expressed to stop castration in 2018 in Europe. The European Union will not organize this via legislation, but calls on producers, processors and suppliers of pork, to realize non castration in the market place. The EU Commission sees to it that this process of transition is actually carried out and supports this goal. The latest developments show that the transition is in progress and fewer pigs in Europe are castrated.
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