Fatty pigs are old, autochthonous, rustic breeds well adapted to their environment that make an advantageous use of local natural resources and are highly appreciated as sources of traditional meat products, not only for their high sensorial quality, but also for being considered as an important part of national and regional heritage. Important fatty pig breed populations are found worldwide, from Japan to the Eastern and South-Eastern continental Asia, Europe, South Africa and Latin America.
These breeds are highly valuable genetic resources with a great potential for a high market value in some breeds and a highly prized quality standard in other cases, like the Iberian and Mangalica. However, they have been neglected in the past as meat producers when animal fat lost its value as a nutritional energy source. Later on, even their meat products became blamed as unhealthy and farmers lost their interest on these breeds due to their slower growth rate in comparison to modern, highly selected breeds.
Fortunately, the current interest of worldwide consumers for the high-quality of local fatty-pig products is favouring the recovery of some of their populations, although some of their less productive breeds and strains are still highly endangered. Paradoxically, this increasing demand for fatty-pig products is transforming the traditional extensive management of these breeds into more intensive production schemes, thus decreasing the sustainability and resilience of their production systems. Indeed, this intensification ignores the physiology of fatty breeds and their trend for adiposity and obesity, therefore rendering conventional extensive systems inadequate for the sustainable use of these breeds. In contrast, traditional extensive systems not only allow the sustainable use and welfare of the pigs and the quality and health benefits of their products, but also contribute to the sustainable use and preservation of the local ecosystems, therefore contributing to economical and societal sustainability of rural areas by increasing their profitability and business and employment opportunities, which mitigates the exodus to industrialized areas.
Nevertheless, fatty-pig production faces important technical challenges arising from their peculiar physiology, metabolism, growth rate and behavioral and reproductive management. Fortunately, a bunch of Asian and European experts gathered in Hanoi, Vietnam in September 2009 and gave rise to a “Fatty Pig Group” to promote knowledge transfer and progress in this area, specially in relation to the European and Asian breeds. The first Fatty Pig Conference was held in 2011 in Hungary. Since then, these events have been held every two years in that country thanks to the enthusiastic endeavour of Prof. József Rátky, head researcher of the Hungarian NARIC-ATK research institute. Now these meetings evolved and start a new journey to spread the same enthusiasm all over the fatty-pig geographical range.
Therefore, the main objective of this conference is to congregate producers, technicians, researchers, policy makers and representatives of breeders associations, Denominations of Origin and Geographical Indications from various countries, thus encouraging the exchange of knowledge and expertise in order to optimize fatty-pig production systems and related industry, so their products become more profitable, healthier and environmentally and economically sustainable. In this regard, these meetings are intended for those involved in research, technological transfer, knowledge dissemination, animal production and meat product processing and marketing within this or related sectors.