In the tranquil surroundings of the University of Reading campus, on the 11th of January, we held our first annual stakeholder meeting for the PigSustain project. This was a very exciting time for the PigSustain team, as it was our first chance to showcase all of the hard work we have been putting into the project since we began almost a year ago! We had a great turnout, with representatives of the industry from farm to fork – producers, processors, vets and retailers, as well as policy makers and assurance schemes.
The morning kicked off with short presentations from each work package on the progress made over the course of our first year. I think I can safely say that everyone was very impressed with the amount of work and effort that has been put in so far. We are already starting to get exciting results from the consumer demand for pork analysis and the progress on the development of the automatic detection system had everyone very excited!
After a quick coffee we had a great talk from Prof Sandra Edwards, who had made the long trip down from her beachside residence in Scotland! Prof Edwards talked about developing measures sustainability in pig production and we discussed how we might use these on PigSustain.
With lunch over and everybody suitably caffeinated, it was time for a bit of audience participation in the afternoon. Firstly, we had Dr John Ingram (GFS Coordinating group, Oxford University) set the scene by inviting us to think about Resilience. PigSustain aims to predict the impacts of intensification and future changes on UK pig industry resilience. However, assessing resilience turns out to be much trickier than we might have thought. Resilience of what, to what, for whom and for how long were questions that John had us pondering over in relation to the UK pig industry in the afternoon workshops. We had lively discussions and great insights from all of the stakeholders and the project team was very busy keeping record of all the information so that we can feed it into our systems model!
The day ended with a lovely meal out in Reading with those who could make it. Overall, we were delighted with the meeting and the enthusiasm of the stakeholders. This has given us a great boost of energy to start off our 2nd year of this 4-year project. With a massive thanks to everyone involved and watch this space for more developments in 2018 on PigSustain!