The Netherlands in the spotlight at OPORMEX - Mexico's National Pig Farming Event

From 16 to 20 May 2023, Mexico’s national pig farming association OPORMEX held its annual congress in Nuevo Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The Netherlands, guest country at this year’s congress, was present with a large delegation of experts to share experiences and best practices on a wide range of issues, all related to sustainability. At the same time, Dutch companies showcased their technology and solutions for the sector at the event’s exhibition area. Dutch Ambassador to Mexico Wilfred Mohr participated in the official opening of the event, in the company of prominent guests including Mexico’s Minister of Agriculture Villalobos, Nayarit State Governor Navarro Quintero and OPORMEX President Hernandez.

Beeld: ©LAN MEX / Speakers and representatives of Dutch companies on the OPORMEX stage

The 4 Ps of Pig Farming

Sustainability was the overall theme of Mexico’s national pig farming association OPORMEX’ annual conference this year. The event, which took place from 16 to 20 May 2023, was attended by around 1000 representatives from the sector. 15 speakers, among whom eight representing Dutch organisations and companies, shared their experiences and insights on various aspects of sustainability applied to the pig farming: Senior Pig Production Economist Robert Hoste of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) was one of the two keynote speakers, who opened the conference with an overview of trends and developments in The Netherlands and beyond related to the ‘four Ps of Sustainability in Pig Farming”: People, Planet, Profit and Pigs.

Beeld: ©LAN MEX
Eleine Hernández Trujillo (Mexico), Hendrik-Jan Roest and Janneke Janssens at the animal welfare panel; Luc Willekens, Ton van de Goor and Robert Hoste

Better Life label

The Netherlands’ Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Hendrik-Jan Roest shared the latest developments in Europe regarding animal welfare legislation, while Janneke Janssens, co-owner of agricultural publishing house Roodbont Publishers, spoke about the importance of communicating animal welfare initiatives with society at large, and shared the experience of the collaboration between the pork sector and animal welfare organisations in The Netherlands, including the ‘Better Life” (Beter Leven) animal welfare label for meat products.

Economics and Profitability

The economic aspect of sustainability was also covered, through presentations by Luc Willekens, who shared his recommendations on how to improve profitability for Mexican pig farmers, based on his longstanding farming experience in Mexico, Colombia and The Netherlands, while Ton van de Goor, Global Key Account Manager at pig genetics firm Topigs Norsvin, presented the trends, challenges and opportunities currently affecting Dutch pig farmers.

Beeld: ©LAN MEX
Wyno Zwanenburg, Leo den Hartog, Barbara Brutsaert and Rodrigo Mezencio Godinho

R&D and animal health

The second conference day focused on R&D, Animal Health and Environmental Sustainability. This day included presentations by Rodrigo Mezencio Godinho, Researcher at Topigs Norsvin, who shared the latest insights from the pan-European Feed-a-Gene research project, aimed at improving the overall efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of animal production systems. Barbara Brutsaert, Sustainability Manager Antibiotic Reduction at Trouw Nutrition, presented ongoing R&D efforts and achievements aimed at reducing the use of antibiotics in pig farming. Deputy CVO Hendrik-Jan Roest participated in a panel about animal health, and presented the Dutch strategy and programmes to prevent and control outbreaks of animal diseases in the pork sector.

Environmental Footprint

Leo den Hartog, Supervisory Board member of several companies in the animal farming sector and former Extraordinary Professor Sustainable Animal Nutrition at WUR, presented ways to reduce the sector’s environmental impact, focusing on promising emission-reducing technologies and animal nutrition. Finally, Wyno Zwanenburg, who was recently appointed Chairman of the Dutch Coalition Viva (Vital Pig Farming), a chain-wide collaborative initiatives of Dutch pork sector stakeholders aimed at making the sector sustainable and future-proof, presented the latest developments in manure processing, an essential element in reducing the sector’s environmental footprint. Speakers from The Netherlands were accompanied on the stage by speakers from Mexico and the United States.

Beeld: ©LAN MEX
Opening of the NL pavilion by Dutch Ambassador Wilfred Mohr, OPORMEX President Heriberto Hernandez and Agricultural Counselor Erik Plaisier

The Netherlands pavilion

In the adjoining hall, The Netherlands was also well represented among the approximately 100 companies showcasing their technology at the exhibition area. A total of 10 Dutch companies were present, including De Gier, Schippers, Nijhuis, Veldman Group, FANCOM, Hypor/Hendrix Genetics (through their Mexican distributor NS Group), Orffa, Trouw Nutrition, Topigs Norsvin and Ottevanger. Together, they offered a wide range of solutions for Mexico’s pork sector, ranging from genetics, hygiene and nutrition solutions, to  feed mills, stable construction and automatization and (waste)water management. The majority of the Dutch companies were part of the Netherlands pavilion, coordinated by Holland House Mexico.

Beeld: ©LAN MEX
The praesidium at the opening of the OPORMEX 2023 congress

Challenging Mexican market

The 2023 OPORMEX event was held at a particularly challenging time for the Mexican pig farming sector. China’s recovery of much of its swine herd - decimated during the severe African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak over the last couple of years – has caused Chinese demand for pork to plummet and has diverted international trade flows, causing an oversupply and low prices of pork on the Mexican market. Combined with initiatives of the Mexican Government to reduce import tariffs for pork meat in an effort to reduce food inflation, this situation has wreaked havoc for many Mexican pig farmers.