He said pig meat accounts for almost half of all meat consumed within the EU. Consumption currently stands at 18 million tonnes, over twice the level of beef. This figure will increase to over 20 million tonnes with the accession of ten new member states.
Pig meat is also the most popular meat in Ireland, although per-capita consumption is well below the European average. The country has about 500 commercial producers who have some of the largest units in Europe.
The top prize in the Irish Pork Competition final was won by Simon Tracey, Ballinasloe, a catering student at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.
He was one of five finalists in the competition and cookery course, co-ordinated by Bord Bia, the Panel of Chefs of Ireland, the Irish Association of Pigmeat Processors and the IFA.
The aim was to raise the presence of Irish pork on menus and to educate students with regard to pork from farm to fork.
Simon Tracey was awarded a certificate, a trophy and a €1,000 cash prize. He also received sponsorship to the value of €2,000 for a pork related project to be carried out as part of his college course.
Finalists included Thomas Berry, Dundalk IT, (Dundrum), Peadar McNamee, Dundalk IT, (Ardee), Jane Mulholland, Tallaght IT, (Tallaght), Stephen Fallon, Tralee IT, (Kenmare) and Christopher Molloy, Athlone IT, (Banagher, Co Offaly).