By Maja Burry of RNZ
The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the food service sector has the pork industry once again worried about a possible surplus of pigs.
During last year's nationwide lockdown the Government spent $5.8 million dollars buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating it to charity.
The industry group New Zealand Pork said while it was managing at the moment, the ongoing impact of level 4 restrictions on Auckland's large food service sector could lead to problems.
Chief executive David Baines said it was closely monitoring the situation, in a bid to ensure it didn't face an animal welfare crisis during the Covid-19 restrictions.
"It wouldn't take much for you know... maybe some of the customers based in Auckland, [sic] continue to be shut down... all of a sudden, that could create an oversupply of pigs due to the reduced demand," he said.
David Baines said commercial piggeries typically supplied pigs to market on a weekly basis and couldn't adapt easily.
At this time of year cold storage in New Zealand is largely taken up with frozen Christmas hams, so finding extra space at such short notice could be difficult, he said.
"The farmers have got a similar problem, that most farms don't have capacity to hold more than an extra week's worth of pigs on farm."
Baines said if the scale of the oversupply was such that the sector needed government support, it would communicate that quickly to the Government.
"There's still potential for us to fall out of balance and the need for, maybe, some urgent assistance from government."