As the enlargement of the EU draws ever closer, the impact that this process will have on pork producers and processors within the new Member States is becoming a pressing concern.
As a result, two key countries, Hungary and Poland, are planning to send their top industry experts to the forthcoming World Pork Congress to outline their visions for the future.
The speakers are Jozef Pilarczyk, the new Polish vice minister for agriculture, and Peter Biacs, deputy secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hungary.
The congress, which will be held at the Birmingham International Convention Centre on 19 and 20 June 2003, is being organised by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) and the Meat and Livestock Commission, in conjunction with the International Meat Secretariat.
BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan said: "Poland and Hungary have the capability to become even more significant pork producers and consumers.
"Whether growth in production or consumption dominates the future is of vital importance to all in the global pork industry.
"We are very pleased to have two people with such intimate knowledge and insight as speakers at the congress, and their contributions will enable others in the industry worldwide to anticipate the changing market and improve their business planning."
Pig production in Hungary was at its peak in the 1980s with 12 million pigs slaughtered a year. Rationalisation, however, has seen that figure fall to six million.
Former state run pig plants now account for 85 per cent of production but individuals keeping a small number still account for about one million pigs.
The key export markets for Hungarian pork are Japan, South Korea, Germany and Russia.
The Polish breeding herd is 1.58 million sows and 87 per cent of that is on one million farms. Pigmeat represents 66 per cent of the country's total meat production.
The country has more than 7,000 slaughtering plants, 3,000 for pigs but less than 10 currently approved for EU or US export. The largest foreign market is Russia which accounts for 62 per cent of all pigmeat exports.
For further information about the congress, visit worldporkcongress.com.