Piglets get a ticket to ride

Pig farmers are increasingly shipping their livestock abroad to be raised and butchered. Slaughterhouses such as Danish Crown feel the pinch

This little piggy went to Germany. This little piggy went to Poland. This Danish farmer earned a bundle. This Danish worker cried wee-wee-wee all the way home, because he lost his job.

Danish pig farmers are increasingly shipping their livestock to foreign slaughterhouses in an effort to circumvent strict environmental regulations, reports national daily Jyllands-Posten.

The number of piglets shipped abroad has increased from 1.3 million in 2001 to 3.3 million in 2004.

'We send nearly all our piglets to Poland,' said pig farmer Finn Mikkelsen.
'There they are raised by local farmers who have contracts with meatpacker Animex, a daughter company of American Smithfield.'

Mikkelsen and a colleague have established a firm that will be responsible for transporting their piglets abroad. They expect that Animex will purchase 125,000 Danish piglets this year.

Jan Tambo, an agent for Smithfield, found that Danish farmers were more than willing to sell their piglets to Dutch, German, and Polish slaughterhouses that could offer a better price, despite shipping costs.

'We don't have any problems obtaining Danish piglets. We have Danish farmers on our waiting list, because we can offer a better price,' said Tambo.

The development spells trouble for Danish Crown and other major slaughterhouses in Denmark.

Smithfield and other meatpackers that purchase Danish livestock will be able to market their products in Britain under the established and well-respected 'Danish Bacon' trademark.

In addition, with fewer pigs to slaughter, a number of slaughterhouses might have to close.

'We expect that we'll lose one million pigs,' said Danish Crown Pork Division Director Jens Haven Christiansen. 'That's a highly unusual situation. We have never seen anything like this. Our smaller competitors aren't losing out - we're the ones who are going to take a loss.'

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