The resignation of Daan Somers as manager of the Swine Innovation Centre (SIC) Sterksel has given me the opportunity to get again acquainted with the innovation centre for the Dutch pig industry. On my first tour on the research farm the diversity of innovation projects worked on today surprised me.
In hindsight it’s quite logic though. Over the last years we have seen an increase in diversity in the Dutch pig industry. According to 2013 statistics the number of pig farms is 3.700 with in total 12,1 million pigs. A large number of these farms – specialised multipliers – produce piglets for the export market. In 2012 about 6,9 million piglets were exported, of which 63% to finishers in Germany. The other farms produce pigs for predominantly the Dutch and European consumers. Among this group of pork producers we see an increase in diversity of pork. Not so many years ago the market could be simply divided in more than 95% commodity and less than 5% organic pork. In recent years we have seen a strong increase in the so called ‘intermediate’ segments such as Good Farming Star en ‘Keten Duurzaam Varkensvlees, Friberne, Heijdehoeve, Vair, etc. The expectation is that consumer demand for this intermediate segment of pork will grow not only in the Netherlands but also in other countries in North-Western Europe. For the pig farmer an opportunity to get more added value per kg pork or piglet in the market.
The trend above is also part of the recent published view on the future pig industry ‘Recipe for sustainable pork’ by the branch organisations of the Dutch pig industry (www.innovatievarkensvleesketen.nl). This publication is the guideline for the innovative research at SIC Sterksel and Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Researchers, pig farmers and private companies work hard on the development and market introduction of new innovations and knowledge. In co-operation with VarkensNET and the agricultural colleges the newly developed innovations and knowledge are spread amongst the majority of (future) farmers and professionals in the pig production chain. We do have something to offer for everyone no matter the focus of the farmer or professional in the variety of the pork chains in the Dutch pig industry.
SIC Sterksel has served over 40 years the development of the Dutch pig industry and its pig farmers. Today and in the years to come it is of vital importance that all pig farmers continue their support for SIC Sterksel. It is of importance that pig farmers become positively inspired by ongoing innovative projects that are conducted in the joined research program financed by the pig industry and the ministry of economic affairs. We invite all pig farmers and professionals to visit SIC Sterksel from time to time and to participate in ‘Wroeten met….’ sessions organised by VarkensNET. More than likely it will ‘wow’ you too!Han Swinkels
(manager SIC Sterksel)