Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.Picture Mike Batterham
Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.Picture Mike Batterham

How many extra kilos of pork you’re eating now

AUSTRALIANS really are bringing home the bacon, eating three kilograms more pork each year than seven years ago.

The Australian Pork Limited says people are going the whole hog and ate an average 11.6kg of pork last year, as opposed to 8.6kg in 2011.

Meat industry experts say the increase is putting a fork in the vegan movement. However, critics say the boom is on the back of smart marketing campaigns and the industry still has not addressed the treatment of pigs.

Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Picture Mike Batterham
Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Picture Mike Batterham

Celebrity chef and My Kitchen Rules host Manu Feildel, who was called in to attend the The Pan Pacific Pork Expo hosted by Australian Pork Limited at Broadbeach this week, said "food wasn't really on the list for Australians 20 years ago. But (fine) food has gotten bigger and bigger since the 2000 Olympics. Now Australia is one of the main capitals of food in the world.

"It's fantastic. We need to share this with everyone and go away from the sausage rolls and party pies."

He said pork was attractive because you could use the whole animal.

"Being a Frenchman, pork is one of the main protein in France with charcuterie and pâtés and so on so everything is being used in pork. Everything is being used except for the teeth and the bones.

"Pork is one of the proteins that was less used in Australia. They've worked very hard for the past 15 years now to put pork back on the plate."

Mr Feildel said pigs were now farmed in much better conditions following the industry voluntary phase out of sow stalls - effectively cages to stop mothers from harming other pigs and their young - about eight years ago.

He said the risk of parasites in the meat had also decreased.

"I suppose pork had a poor reputation for a long time and you had to cook it well done to kill anything that would be bad in it," Mr Feildel said.

"But the way the animals are treated now there's no danger of getting sick at all."

But animal rights activists claim the pigs are kept in poor conditions.

"Nothing has changed," said Karagh-Mae Kelly, a senate candidate for the Animal Justice Party in Queensland. "I know of undercover action in south east Queensland three weeks ago that showed animals kept in sow stalls."

Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Picture Mike Batterham
Celebrity chef Manu Feildel pictured Hamming it up at the Pan Pacific Pork Expo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Picture Mike Batterham

Ms Kelly said increases in pork consumption was probably because of the industry's "Get Some Pork on Your Fork" marketing blitz, driving about $1.3 billion of productivity in 2016-17.

"Their marketing strategy is really good, but on the cruelty side of it nothing has changed," Ms Kelly said.

"Pigs are more intelligent than dogs and they have their babies ripped from them and their mums are confined in cages. We have a massive issue on our hands."

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The pork industry said it was facing other challenges: "Pig farmers are victims of their own success," said marketing boss Peter Haydon. "They're making a lot more pork, so supply has become a little bit more than demand and so prices have crashed."