Corporate Swine: A Global Value Chain Analysis of Pork Production, Processing, and Retailing in Southwestern Ontario




MacDonald, Katie Melissa

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University of Guelph


This doctoral thesis provides a global value chain analysis of Southwestern Ontario pork production and processing, and broader retailing sectors, to understand the political and economic challenges experienced by hog producers and the wider hog industry. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 hog producers and 18 key industry informants between June and November 2015. A number of explicit and implicit political and economic challenges to production were identified. Explicit themes include a lack of kill or shackle space in Ontario, no control over pricing, and the influence of animal rights groups and their “vegan agenda” to remove all animals from agriculture. Implicit themes include overproduction and export dependence, a contradictory stance on the value of agricultural subsidies versus agricultural safety-nets, and conflict among producers and the tendency to consumer-blame. An argument is further made for how control is exercised throughout the entire value chain, as powerful further processors and retailers dictate production practices based on a meticulously-calculated pricing formulation based on hog leanness that requires producer-adherence. The results outline how political and economic conditions greatly influence hog production in Southwestern Ontario.



Global Value Chain Analysis, Political Economy, Swine, Pork Production, Meat Processing, Slaughter, Value-Added, Canadian Food Retailing, Lean Hogs