porc biologique

Is organic pork really worth the extra cost?

03 May 2023

Organic products are, on average, more expensive. This was revealed by a 2020 study conducted by the magazine Linéaires, specialized in large-scale distribution, in collaboration with Nielsen. Indeed, in over one-fifth of product categories, organic products have an average price at least twice as high as conventional products. But do you know why organic products cost more?

Paying less for so-called conventional products often means that others pay the difference—whether it's your health, the environment, or animal welfare.

Higher Costs Associated with Organic Products

Production, Processing, and Distribution Costs

In terms of production, it's important to note that yields are lower in organic crop cultivation compared to conventional methods. Organic farmers do not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, resulting in slower agriculture. Organic farming methods also require more labor (monitoring crops to take action at the first signs of disease or pests, manual weeding, etc.). To cover these higher production costs and make a sustainable living from their work, organic producers have no choice but to sell their products at higher prices.

Organic Certification

Producing and marketing organic products also involves regular inspections and certification. These inspections, carried out by independent certifying bodies such as Ecocert, are essential for organic certification, whether the product carries the organic label or not. This represents an additional cost, which is reflected in the product's price.

Higher Costs for Quality Ingredients

In organic production, processed product volumes are often lower. Small-scale manufacturers do not produce and market the same quantities as large conventional agri-food groups, and therefore cannot achieve the same economies of scale. Additionally, producing organic meat, such as organic pork, is more expensive than conventional production due to the cost of ingredients. For example, to obtain the organic label, chemical additives are prohibited, and agricultural ingredients must be 95% organic. Organic farmers must use natural additives, which are more expensive due to their higher quality and limited accessibility.

Animal Welfare

No growth agents or antibiotics are used in organic pig farming. The feed consists exclusively of organic plant-based cereals without GMOs. Each animal follows a natural growth cycle and reaches full maturity. Furthermore, organic pigs live in spacious indoor areas and have access to the outdoors. Animals are treated with special care on farms, during transportation, and at processing facilities. Providing this special attention to animal welfare incurs additional costs: organic food for animals is much more expensive, pigs have more space, resulting in less crowded facilities, disease control standards are higher, and more. In addition, the organic sector must adhere to strict standards that guarantee production free from contaminants commonly found in conventional farming.

Environmental Considerations

Organic pork aligns with sustainable development principles. Strict farming practices help preserve the environment. When producing organic food, pastures where animals graze should not have been chemically fertilized. This preservation fosters diversity and abundance of species, such as microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms are essential to maintain soil health and vitality. The richness in organic matter improves the physical characteristics of the soil, including increased structural stability, better porosity, higher water retention capacity, and more. These properties enable crops to better resist drought. Additionally, organic practices contribute to the fight against climate change by limiting pollutant emissions and sequestering more CO2 in the soil. Thanks to healthy microorganisms, the soil can trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is extremely beneficial for the environment in the long run. As mentioned earlier, the products and techniques used to preserve soil quality and the environment are more expensive than the chemicals used in intensive farming.

The Pork from "Les Viandes Bio de Charlevoix"

Raised according to organic farming principles, pigs from Les Viandes Bio de Charlevoix are fed with farm-cultivated feed and have access to ample outdoor space, as well as enclosures illuminated by natural light. They have access to fresh air and can wallow in the mud, just like any happy pig!

The breeding facility is equipped with abundant windows, and the animals have access to a minimum of 6 hours of darkness for rest. From June to October, fattening pigs can go outside to outdoor enclosures. Additionally, piglets benefit from a water-heated floor thanks to biomass heating, significantly increasing their comfort compared to other heating methods.

Since farrowing is a critical period and conventional cage systems are not allowed in organic farming, Les Viandes Bio de Charlevoix uses triangle-shaped enclosures. These enclosures allow the mother to turn around while reducing her movements, thus avoiding the risk of piglets being crushed. Furthermore, pigs undergo no physical alterations, such as tail docking and teeth clipping, which are unfortunately systematic in conventional farming.

The Pork from duBreton Farm

By practicing certified agricultural methods that go well beyond industry standards, duBreton offers pork products of exceptional quality. Their meat is flavorful and respects consumers' values.

This farm firmly believes that transparency is the best guarantee of trust. Each certification they have chosen to adhere to is verified annually by an independent auditor who scrutinizes duBreton's facilities, equipment, processes, and methods. They are committed to an innovative path that considers agriculture and the environment as an interconnected system to develop in order to ensure its sustainability and offer a product that respects their values and those of consumers.

Our Non-Certified "Organic" Pork

We aim to offer a wide variety of products to our customers, providing them the option to choose between organic and non-organic pork products. Therefore, we offer a multitude of choices on our online store. While organic pork surpasses industry standards, it's important to know that our non-organic pork selection is still based on eco-responsibility, sustainability, and traceability. We encourage independent farms that are not part of conventional farming conglomerates. The conventional pork found in most grocery stores is not, and will never be, what we offer to our customers. Indeed, we offer certain pork products that come from la ferme Rang 4. Although this partner farm does not have organic certification, they use unconventional farming techniques that prioritize animal welfare and the environment.

Le Rang 4 is one of the few Quebec companies that control every step of the breeding process, from slaughtering to processing, distribution, and marketing. The company's buildings are located within just one kilometer, allowing the animals to avoid long hours of transportation to the abattoir, significantly reducing their stress levels. The Forget family (founders of this family-owned business) raises pigs with grain-based feed, without the addition of antibiotics or growth hormones.

In short, if we were to answer the initial question: Is it really worth paying more for organic pork? Our answer would be: ABSOLUTELY! However, if you do not wish to buy organic products but still want to make a difference in the industry, there are several products from unconventional farming that allow you to bring about change. By consuming products from local and responsible farms, you can support farmers who are trying to disrupt the industry by practicing more sustainable, responsible, and animal-friendly farming.

With all the benefits that organic and unconventional farming can bring to your health and the environment, it might be worth the "cost" of paying more!

For discovering our pork products, click here!

Source used for writing this article:

Beautru, Amaury. (2020). Le bio, en réalité 75 % plus cher. Linéaires. https://www.lineaires.com/les-produits/le-bio-en-realite-75-plus-cher?sso=1588761764.

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