Foodbank serving up Aussie pork to people in need

1st October 2020

Amid the social and economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 in recent months, Australia’s pork industry has been working with the country’s leading food relief organisation, Foodbank Australia, to support Australians struggling to put food on the table.

In a collaboration involving the Federal Government and Australian Pork Limited (APL), Foodbank Australia’s provision of protein to members of the community in need has been boosted by weekly deliveries from several pork wholesalers across the country.

More than a quarter of Australian pork is usually consumed in foodservice outlets, so when restaurants, pubs and clubs across the country were forced to closed earlier in the year, alternative markets had to be found.

APL CEO Margo Andrae said while the rise in homemade meals increased pork sales at butchers and supermarkets, the supply chain has still been under pressure in adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Australia’s weekly pork production is very consistent,” Ms Andrae said. “Even with retail sale increases, we were looking at ways to take pressure off of our processors and wholesalers to ensure the market stayed as stable as possible and producers had some certainty.”

“We approached the Federal Government to talk about ways we could turn a challenge into a positive because while we had surplus product, there are lots of people facing food insecurity.”

Emergency relief funding made available to Foodbank by Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston enabled the initiative to commence.

“Wholesalers Linley Valley Pork (WA), Holco (SA), Global Meats (Vic) Mastercut Meats (NSW) and Top Cut (Qld) have been pivotal in this wonderful initiative, providing pork to Foodbank at a significant discount to ensure the funding can be stretched as far as possible,” Ms Andrae said.

“We’re proud of the role our industry is playing in providing food security for those in need, but we’re also very grateful to Foodbank because the weekly supply arrangements have given processors and wholesalers added operational certainty for their businesses and employees.

“This has helped keep employees at our plants working and helped ensure producers could be confident they had a buyer.”

“Sadly, we’ve seen market failure in the US in recent months, where major pig processors have closed for extended periods. Thousands of pigs have been euthanised on-farm and prices have fallen dramatically, yet the need to feed Americans in-need has been more critical than ever. We are very grateful that by working together, we’ve avoided that sort of devastating scenario in Australia.”

Pork provided to Foodbank has included sausages, roasts, mince and forequarter chops, totalling 23,685 kilograms of made-to-order pork products over a three-and-a-half-month period. Based on this success, APL and industry wholesalers are looking at ways to continue working with Foodbank.

Foodbank Australia National Program Manager – Agriculture, Ms Jacqui Payne, explained how significant this supply has been to the Foodbank network nationally and to food relief recipients.

“We’re so grateful to APL and all the local wholesalers who have supported Foodbank through this period. Having a regular, reliable supply of a high-demand protein product such as pork takes the ‘surprise’ out of our supply chain and goes a long way in helping us end hunger in Australia.”

Melissa Parker from Mastercut Meats said the wholesaler, which has been supplying pork for distribution in NSW and the ACT, was keen to continue supporting Foodbank.

“As a family business, we’re always looking for ways to give back to the community,” Ms Parker said.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity to support Foodbank with supplies of premium Australian pork, helping those in need during this time of crisis, and also supporting our supply chain, our employees and Australian pork producers.”