The deal to combine producers Westvlees and Covalis to create the Belgian Pork Group was first put forward in April and was cleared by the national competition authority in September. The group produces over four million pigs annually and controls a third of the domestic pig market.
Speaking to Global Meat News at the Anuga trade show in Cologne, Jos Cleays, CEO of Westvlees, said that while farmers were unsure about the group at first, they have now accepted it. “We had some farmers visit us and they saw the Belgian Pork Group branding and were confused about the message, but once they saw what we’re trying to achieve, they’ve offered us support.”
Before the introduction of the Belgian Pork Group, farmers were part of a co-operative whereas now they have shares in the Group. Cleays said he understood that the change would take some getting used to but assured them that it was all in the best interest of the Belgian pork industry.
When approval for the group was given, farmers union president Peter Vanthemsche said it was “a strong signal that reflects a firm belief in the sector and an innovative restructuring of the pig chain”.
The aim of the group is to create a “network” for the Belgian pork industry with the target of making pork a national symbol on the same level as chocolate, waffles and Tintin.