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1. Bonn Meeting

Developing joint strategies

The pork industry has to be prepared for the challenges it is facing. In particular there are breathtaking developments in the areas of production, animal health and welfare but also within the production chain. Experts from the German and Dutch pork industry therefore recommend the defining of common standards and uniform positioning: specialists from the sector from both countries met for the first time on 23 April in Bonn for a cross-border exchange of information aimed at defining the "optimisation potentials in the German-Dutch pork industry. Here the first "Bonn Meeting" focussed on defining opportunities and tasks within the value-added chain and the question of what possibilities this meeting could produce for intensive cooperation.

At the very outset of the talks, moderated by Prof. Dr. Brigitte Petersen, it became evident that all participants wanted closer competition between the German and the Dutch industry. "Intensive contacts are the basic requirement for surviving on this dynamic market" commented Wyno Zwanenburg, chairman of the Dutch pig keepers' organisation. Here administrative and economic hurdles have to be overcome. "Our strategy has to be creating a common innovative core so that mere "coexistence" can be turned into "cooperation", explained Dr. Martin Hamer, executive director of GIQS. Ing. Mark Tijssen from the Dutch farmers' association believes the standardisation of production processes and quality assurance systems is the most pressing task. He added that traceability and auditability of the production results played a central role.

It was argued that above all the requirements of the consumer were an important issue, which in future would have to be taken more seriously into consideration. Dr. Hermann Schlöder, head of the department "Vieh und Fleisch, Eier und Geflügel" (livestock and meat, eggs and poultry) at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV), urged that "it is important to inform the consumer, particularly with regard to the latest societal issues, such as animal welfare and health". The experts at the meeting agreed that animal welfare and health were important issues on the agenda. It is particularly significant because this issue is not just relevant for society but also in an economic sense.

All participants responded positively to the first roundtable of its type in Bonn. They argued that it had created a new communication platform, which not only debated the latest topics but also produced ideas and solutions and made these available to be used in practice. There was general agreement that the next roundtable should now adopt a "more practical" approach and discuss the next steps in the joint communication activities and strategies.

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