SAPPO regards research to be one of the pillars on which the pork industry stands.  Research in the pork industry is in the interest of the whole red meat chain including the consumer, and SAPPO believes that pork research should enjoy government support.

SAPPO has a Research Portfolio Committee to manage research and development within the pork industry. Prof Francois Siebrits is SAPPO’s research coordinator. He can be contacted at

The pork industry funds its own research, and money is derived from two main sources.  The first is from industry money held by the Red Meat Research and Development Trust.  The Trust distributes funds generated from the interest derived from a capital investment (about R150 000 annually).  The second major source of funding is money resulting from the statutory levy.  SAPPO is the sole service provider to the pork industry and it budgets about R660 000 of levy money for research annually.  The final amount will depend upon the amount collected from producers.

SAPPO’s Research Committee has the following functions:

  • To identify pertinent areas within the pig industry requiring research and development.  (This necessitates wide scale consultation with producers, industry role-players, research experts, etc.)
  • To formulate projects to address the needs identified in the first point above. (This could involve literature reviews where appropriate or original research projects as required)
  • To make decisions regarding projects to be funded and to communicate and motivate these to the SAPPO board.
  • To take care of contractual and payment details, and to ensure that all stipulated requirements are met including time schedules, progress reports, final reports, etc.
  • To ensure that information pertaining to the progress and the conclusion of the research projects is disseminated promptly and efficiently.  (This will include the distribution of popular articles and recommendations to industry)
  • To attempt to evaluate completed research projects and determine value for money.
  • The Committee also awards research bursaries to postgraduate students in high priority fields.

 Latest research reviews

SAPPO commissioned a number of researchers to conduct literature reviews on subjects related to pig production. Click here to downlaod the reports.

Review of African Swine Fever; transmission, spread and control
By Mary-Louise Penrith and Wilna Vosloo

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly fatal viral disease of domestic pigs that manifests as a haemorrhagic fever and can kill up to 100% of pigs affected (Penrith et al. 2004a). To date all efforts to produce a vaccine against ASF have failed. New developments in the field of molecular research have provided hope that a vaccine may be possible (Chang et al. 2006, Dixon et al. 2004, Lewis et al. 2000). However, alarming spread of ASF in recent years has demonstrated the immediate need for a constructive approach to prevention and control, without waiting for a vaccine to be developed. The purpose of this review is to describe events that prove the ability of ASF to spread rapidly across borders and over long distances, to examine the ways in which ASF is transmitted and the factors that facilitate its spread, and to consider the options for prevention and control, with particular reference to the South African situation. Recent developments in the search for a vaccine will be reviewed briefly.

A review of the causes and control of boar taint
By Stefan Guizot

Boar taint could, at the present time, be a greater problem in First World countries with well educated consumers who can afford to be selective about the type of meat it will eat. Numerous studies on the effect of castration of male pigs have suggested that large economic advantages would result from the rearing of intact male pigs for meat production if the problem of boar taint could be circumvented. The researcher concludes that it is possible that the presence of boar taint in South African pork could be hampering the growth in consumption of pork and as such needs urgent attention.

The use of prebiotics and probiotics in pigs
By Dr Louise Maré

During the last few decades, research on probiotics has expanded beyond bacteria isolated from fermented dairy products to normal microbiota of the intestinal tract. Some of the problems that remain to be solved include the mode of action of probiotics, dose-response relationship, better knowledge of the importance of adhesion, the chemical nature of the receptor sites of different probiotic strains and retaining viability. The researcher concludes that specific conditions where probiotics can be incorporated, as alternatives to antibiotics need to be determined and production costs kept low for these products to become more attractive to the farmer.

Mycotoxins in pigs: A South African perspective
By Dr Hannes Viljoen
Mycotoxins are a relatively large, diverse group of naturally occurring, fungal toxins, many of which have been strongly implicated as chemical agents of toxic disease in humans and animals. They are unavoidable contaminants in foods and feeds and are a major problem all over the world. The researcher concludes that producers who are aware of the problem, and have a regular programme to control it, will ultimately make a greater success in animal productivity and economic return than those who choose to wait until disaster strikes.

The use of plants as ethno-veterinary medical replacements for antibiotic growth promoters
By Jessica  Matchett

The European Union ban on dietary inclusions of antibiotic growth promoting substances in the production of livestock has led to an emerging field of research – the use of predominantly plant-based alternatives to said antibiotic products. This review seeks to place this research into context within the South African pork production sector.  Findings on both ethnomedicinal remedies and ethnoveterinary remedies are presented, from South African sources, African sources and other global regions. Whilst the main emphasis would be on South African plant species, a gap in the research means that the review has had to incorporate research from other areas.

How pig pre-slaughter welfare affects pork quality and the pig industry
Voster Muchenje and Saymore P. Ndou

Most of the consumers in developed countries are increasingly becoming concerned about pig rearing conditions and pork eating quality. Knowledge of animal welfare and its impact on pork production in many developing countries is still lacking. The objective of this review is to open a discussion among stakeholders in the South African pig industry on improving pre-slaughter handling of pigs and its application to improve pork eating quality, income to the farmer and the viability of the pig industry in general. Pig handling at the farm, during transportation and at the abattoir influences physic-chemical and sensory properties of pork. These welfare issues also affect consumer acceptability of pork and the health of pork consumers. Furthermore, the review identifies pig welfare, use of molecular techniques, traceability and disease control, effect of pork products on consumer health, pork processing and value adding, pork safety, and pork acceptability as possible areas in the South African pig industry which need further research.

Feed intake, growth and carcass composition of weaned pigltes receiving varying levels of valine and leucine in their diets
Friedel Valentin Meyer

The objective of this experiment was to determine the response of weaned piglets to dietary valine and to quantify antagonistic effects of excess dietary leucine on this response. 72 Large White x Landrace entire male piglets at 13.46± 1.18 (mean ± SD) kg were assigned to one of six dietary valine treatments [11.9 (TI), 10.1 (T2), 8.3 (T3), 6.6 (T4), 4.8 (T5) g/kg and T5 + supplemented valine (T6)] and one of three leucine treatments [standardised ileal digestible (SID) valine: leucine ratio of 0.52, 0.27 and 0.16]. Animals received feed ad libitum for a period of 18 days.

Comparative financial and environmental life cycle assessment of three South African pork production chains
J.C. Muller and T.E. Kleynhans

Intensive pork production systems have traditionally had a poor image with the public, because these production systems are associated with environmental pollution. While the world demand for meat, and especially pork, needs to be met, an increasing awareness exists among consumers, researchers and producers about the environmental impacts associated with producing meat. Notwithstanding this, environmental impacts are not captured in the price of meat. This study determines the energy balance and emissions of three case studies, and compares these results with their financial performance using the Life cycle assessment (LCA) method.

Exploring regional differences pork production costs: perspectives from the agri benchmark initiative
Tracy Davids

Modern agriculture has been exposed to an increasingly globalised society. Access to the international market has provided consumers with access to a wider range of products, at competitive prices. For the agricultural producer, competitiveness within the global context has become paramount, as increasing trade globally increases the level of competition faced by domestic producers.

The contribution of portion size of processed pork to total salt intake in the diet

B Pretorius and HC Schönfeldt

It is widely accepted that reducing salt consumption will be beneficial to one’s health (Webster, et al., 2011). However, the average salt intake in South African (SA) adults, at 8.1 g/day, is higher than the 4-6 g/day recommended by the World Health Organization (Bertram, et al., 2012). This has prompted the South African Department of Health to take a legislative route towards lowering salt content in South African foods by publishing the salt reduction regulations (R214) in March 2013. A two-phase step-change process was chosen to get consumer palates used to the taste of processed products with less salt. The first targets need to be reached by June 2016 and the second targets by June 2019 (Department of Health, 2013).

The effect of transport duration on selected stress metabolites in pigs measured with Point of Care Devices
Lynette Seshoka

Pigs incur stress during transportation from the farm to the abattoir. Stress before slaughtering of pigs causes poor meat quality, even among animals that are free from the malignant hyperthermia gene. A manifestation of stress can be seen in changes in behavior. While it is difficult to measure the changes in behavior during transportation, it is easier to relate the physiological changes to the stress levels using some serum metabolic substrates such as glucose, lactate, triglycerides and cortisol. The stress is caused by physical or psychological factors. The physical stressors include fighting, loading and off-loading while the psychological stressors include anxiety and fear.

Development of a laboratory technique to simulate pig feed digestion
Comfort Akinsola and Felix Fushai

This research study became a paradigm shift investigation of record that has adapted tube
method to nylon bag technology for the determination of dry matter and energy digestibility of
fibrous feeds for pigs. The in vitro experiment was carried out by simulating the environment
of the stomach, small and the large intestines as closely as possible under strictly controlled