Earlier this week, the UK’s National Pig Association (NPA) warned that approximately 150,000 healthy pigs could be culled – selective killing as a population control measure. This unnecessary killing and disposing of healthy pigs are occurring even with a shortage of slaughterhouse works and truck drivers in the UK. Usually, culling occurs because of a disease outbreak like the mad cow outbreak in the 1990s. However, this time, it is because of a failure in the supply chain. Because of logistical problems, the 150,000 or so pigs cannot be transported to slaughterhouse on time. That means that the pigs stay on the farms, get older, too heavy to be transported and costly for the farmers to feed and manage.
Minette Batters, president of the UK National Farmers Union, said that the situation is “absolutely devastating, [especially since] we are putting vets [veterinarians] in the most horrendous position of having to shoot pigs on farm that should be going to be high quality pork in the food chain.”
A Global Problem
Currently, at least a tenth of the global population lives in hunger, and this number is growing exponentially, especially proteins in particular. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) claims that around a third of all food produced are wasted. The rise in temperature, sea levels, and urbanization have diminished productive land. FAO projects that the world will not have enough arable land to feed itself by 2050.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced border closures, factory shutdowns, and more attributing to food supply chains to halt or slow down. Too many companies and businesses have gone out of business; too many workers have left or lost their jobs and it is affecting many parts of the supply chains across many industries like energy, fuel and food. Moreover, food prices are currently at its highest in the past 10 years.
With food shortages, high costs, arable land decreasing, and so many people in hunger, the world cannot afford to waste anything, let alone cull 150,000 healthy pigs. So, companies like Australia’s Provenir and US’ Old Parlor Meat Co have built mobile slaughterhouses that can go directly to farmers.
Startups like UK’s Elemental have found innovative ways to turn the discarded parts of animals into value-added products like fertilizer, feed or other ingredients. There are also companies that provide online animal agriculture marketplaces and animal management like Kynetec – to help reduce the risk of senseless slaughtering of health animals.