Argentina can export meat and eggs for a low cost price, offering the country chances to become a worldwide supplier of poultry meat, pork and eggs.
The country, however, has to invest strongly in animal welfare. Especially layers and breeding sow living conditions are considered to be severely lower than is conventional in the European Union.
These conclusions could be read in the latest report of the Dutch Agricultural Economic Institute (LEI), part of Wageningen University and Research Centre. The study is called "The poultry and pig sector in Argentina. Husbandry practice and animal welfare".
Low cost price
Contrary to Europe, no specific legislation exists with regard to animal welfare. Animal related legislation is restricted to food safety and product quality. This, however, does not mean that animals automatically suffer from worse environmental conditions, as broilers and finisher pigs usually have plenty of space as area and housing costs are low – and due to the climate.
For layers and breeding sows, housing conditions are clearly worse than in North Westen Europe. Especially for layers, surface area is considerably lower than currently in Europe and even more so in comparison to minimum requirements as from 2012.
To get animal welfare in the layer and breeding sow sector at the level of EU standards, a profound change of the Argentinean livestock industry is necessary. New systems like enriched cages or free-range housing for layers and group housing for sows is an option.
In other sectors of the livestock business, LEI also mentions opportunities for adaptation. Improved ventilation and better transport conditions would result in direct financial gain through better quality or a higher production.
This will, however, result in a higher cost price that cannot be accounted for on the domestic market. Argentina does not have a demand for animal friendly products.
The only chance to sell these kinds of products for a higher price, is exporting them to Europe. The Argentinean pig and poultry sector, the LEI writes, therefore has to actively approach the European market.
Governmental policy will determine this. The unstable economy is a risk in this respect, as this can be seen in a lack of investor credit, high interest rates and uncertainty of earning back investments.