TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Predictions that the consumption of pork would fall after the lifting of the ban on ractopamine-treated pork imports from the United States on Jan. 1 have proved unfounded, the government said Thursday (Feb. 18).
One of the reasons Taiwanese hog farmers opposed ending the ban was that they feared local consumers would stop eating pork entirely out of fear of the leanness enhancer.
Yet the opposite happened, according to government spokesmen at the Cabinet's weekly post-meeting news conference Thursday. The total amount of pork consumed surged by 6,000 tons for the period of Jan. 1 through Feb. 16 compared to the same period last year, CNA reported.
The proportion of that amount comprised by imported pork amounted to 8 percent of total consumption in both years, while other imported pork products made up 3 percent, according to Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
He said the overall consumption figures show that critics were wrong to predict the collapse of the local market. Taiwan’s 6,500 hog farmers should not fear consumers changing their eating habits, the premier said, explaining that no ractopamine residues had yet been found in the 400 batches of imported pork.
Su added that the government would invest NT$13 billion (US$465 million) over the next four years in upgrading the quality and hygienic conditions of the domestic industry. The measures should result in pork exports rising by more than 20 percent, according to the Cabinet.
The ban on the import of pork containing traces of ractopamine was seen as a major obstacle to improved trade relations between Taiwan and the U.S. and to an eventual bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.