Tag Archives: Pork

In a consumer-driven business, the pork industry benefits from giving grocery shoppers what they’re looking for.

So meat scientists’ recent findings that consumers are routinely happy with larger cuts – and the resulting tenderness profiles – can be looked at as good news for pork producers.

“One of the results of increased genetics and improved nutrition is that the pork industry has been able to get pigs to heavier market weights a lot more efficiently,” said Travis O’Quinn, a meat scientist with K-State Research and Extension.

“When we harvest those animals at heavier weights, the resulting impact is that we end up with larger cuts that come off those animals, ultimately resulting in larger pork chops when consumers go to the grocery store.”

In taste-test panels conducted recently at Kansas State University, consumers rated pork from larger animals as more tender, and they actually preferred thicker cuts of meat in side-by-side visual comparisons with thinner cuts.

“We brought consumers in and fed them the pork chops and didn’t tell them anything about them other than that they were pork chops,” O’Quinn said. “The consumers’ (responses indicated) that the bigger the animal was, the more tender the product was. When we looked at flavor and juiciness and how much they liked their product overall, there was no difference. We were able to see in the heavier-weight pigs that we did have more tender products.”

Consumers also responded to questions related to packaging of pork. O’Quinn noted that larger cuts could mean that retail packages are larger, meaning that even though the price per pound remains the same, the overall price for larger cuts is higher compared to the overall price for thinner cuts.

O’Quinn said consumers mistakenly thought the price per pound was too high, rather than realizing that the overall price was higher due to the higher weight of the chops in the package.

“To our surprise, when we had the case with no information, the consumers generally liked the bigger chops,” said Emily Rice, a K-State graduate student who conducted the study under O’Quinn’s supervision. “But when we put the prices on there, there became a limit to how big those chops could actually be for the consumers to say they were willing to actually purchase them.

The study’s results will be presented during the K-State Swine Day, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15, at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan. The study was supported by the National Pork Board and Minnesota-based Holden Farms.

“When we look at the results of this study, it really is a win-win situation,” O’Quinn said. “Producers know they are producing a high-quality product. If all trends continue in the industry, and we continue to get larger pigs in the next 10 to 15 years, we don’t have to worry about the quality being negatively impacted. If anything, we could improve the tenderness of the pork just by having these animals naturally get bigger as they will over time.”

He adds: “Overall, that’s good news for the consumer. They have the ability to know with confidence that the pork they are purchasing today will be just as tender, if not more tender, in the future as they continue going. So it really is a positive for consumers.”

With Iowa’s soybean harvest expected to total nearly 600 million bushels, the partnership between soy and pork takes on added importance as production booms and trade disputes linger.

“Iowa soybean farmers depend on domestic and global demand for pork,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Lindsay Greiner. “That’s always been true, but never more evident than right now.”

Iowa’s status as the nation’s leading pork producer depends on soybean farmers. About seventy-five percent of Iowa soybean crop is converted into soybean meal. The average pig consumes nearly 120 pounds of it — or the equivalent of 2.5 bushels of soybeans according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“That appetite for soy is critical to the competitiveness and success of soybean farmers,” says Greiner, who grows soybeans and raises hogs near Keota, “Considering there are nearly 20 million pigs on feed at any given time in Iowa, the result is a strong demand for Iowa soybeans.”

              Dave Struthers, a soybean farmer who raises hogs near Collins, says both industries play off each other and add to Iowa’s agricultural productivity and economic success.

“I always say hakuna matata, it’s the circle of life. The beans are used as feed for the hogs, then the hogs produce the fertilizer to put back on the field,” says Struthers.

Why are soybeans and swine so BIG in Iowa?

  • Feed to fertilizer: One 4,800-head pig farm will generate enough plant food for 600 acres of a corn/soybean rotation.
  • Farming legacy: Iowa has more than 6,000 pig farms and 40,000 soybean farmers, and 94 percent of Iowa’s farms are family-owned.
  • Jobs, jobs, jobs: The two industries combined contribute $12.3 billion to Iowa’s economy and support more than 230,000 Iowa jobs.
  • Exports: Iowa is the top state for pork exports, totaling more than $1.1 billion in 2017, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Join the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association in celebrating October Pork Month by using #Porktober18 on social media. Celebrate an entire month dedicated to celebrating the most popular meat in the world, according to the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

“If you’re wondering how to best celebrate pork month and support Iowa farmers,” Struthers advises, “the answer is to eat more pork!”

A recent trade mission to Asia by the National Pork Board International Marketing Committee built lasting relationships with international customers and elevated U.S. pork as the global protein of choice. The Pork Checkoff team toured Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macau, meeting with pork processors, distributors and retailers, importers and traders, as well as in-country staff responsible for promoting U.S. pork in the region.

“Pork is the No. 1 most-consumed protein in the world, and that was obvious on this mission,” said Bill Luckey, a pork producer from Columbus, Nebraska, and chair of the Pork Checkoff’s International Marketing Committee. “As the committee allocates Pork Checkoff dollars to international marketing, it is important to see how these dollars are working today and how we might better target producer resources in emerging markets in the future.”

With U.S. pork production again breaking records in 2018, the Pork Checkoff is committed to growing pork demand both domestically and in international markets. Singapore and Vietnam are developing markets for U.S. pork and present huge opportunities for U.S. pork export growth in the coming years. In 2017, U.S. pork exports to Singapore increased almost 20 percent from 2016, reaching $17 million. Last year, the United States also exported over $11 million of fresh/chilled/frozen bone-in hams and shoulders to Vietnam.

“Consumers in Vietnam and Singapore are rapidly increasing pork in their diets, with pork consumption on trend to overtake seafood consumption in both markets as the No. 1 protein,” said Craig Morris, the Pork Checkoff’s vice president of international marketing. “This provides a great opportunity to capture a rapidly increasing market share, but we must first understand the changing consumer and retail landscapes in these countries to meet consumer needs and expectations.”

While in Singapore, the committee learned that U.S. pork often is positioned as a premium product, with high-end U.S. pork selling for three to five times more than the price of competitors’ products. Also, pre-prepared and processed foods are becoming popular as consumers seek convenience to meet their increasingly busy, urban lifestyles.

“U.S. pork can succeed in Singapore by delivering a high-quality product packaged in small portions and in convenient, ready-to-cook formats,” Morris said.

In Vietnam, committee members learned that popular wet markets, where fresh pork is sold on the streets, are declining as consumers seek the modern conveniences of full-service grocery stores. U.S. pork is viewed as a superior product in terms of taste and quality, and it is being marketed as such by U.S. import partners and buyers, Morris noted. U.S. pork is heavily featured in restaurants throughout Vietnam, especially by those with newer, more modern menu offerings.

“It’s surprising, but Vietnam is a booming market for American barbecue,” Luckey said. “Many restaurants feature U.S. pork’s reputation for superior quality, which they promote on menus to grow their business.”

Hong Kong also remains a strategic partner for U.S. pork. According to Morris, a significant amount of U.S. pork is sold in Hong Kong then shipped to mainland China, Macau, Vietnam and other Asian markets. As a conduit to other regions, Hong Kong is a critical market, with 38 percent of all of the food the U.S. ships there, in turn, re-exported, according to Morris.

“In this challenging trade environment, it is critical that we meet with our colleagues in Hong Kong and express gratitude for their continued partnership. Building face-to-face relationships is especially important in this region,” Morris said. “We met with 40 of the largest importers who play a key role In deciding what will be sold in retail stores, featured on restaurant menus and traded with other countries in Southeast Asia.”

The last stop on the international mission was Macau, which is home to some of the world’s largest casinos. As a large tourist destination, the country offers many opportunities for U.S. pork to be showcased to consumers from all around the world.

Luckey called the Asian trade mission a great success.

“Not only were we able to see the many different ways that pork is being promoted in these countries, but we came back with insights into how to grow our market share,” Luckey said. “The committee members are excited to share these ideas with our partners here in the U.S. and to follow up with customers we met to bring U.S. pork to their shelves and menus.”

Hog farmers in North Carolina are watching with great concern the still-rising flood waters brought by the historic impact of Hurricane Florence. Efforts continue in affected areas to provide feed and care for animals, and fuel to power farms, while ensuring safety for our farm families and farm employees.

On-farm assessments and industry aerial surveys conducted today determined that flood waters have reached portions of our farms in at least three locations. We know that, in these same locations, animals were moved in advance of the storm or are continuing to receive attention from farmers. In many locations, trucks have been able to continue to move animals in response to the flooding.

Given that record-shattering flooding is forecast to persist for days, we expect additionally affected farms. We do not anticipate severe impacts to the vast majority of the more than 2,100 permitted farms in the state. There are no reported breaches of treatment lagoons and no reported instances of lagoon contents spilling out, known as overtopping.

We are saddened that Hurricane Florence has caused the loss of human life and has so broadly impacted state, county and municipal infrastructure, civic properties, and homes and businesses across Eastern North Carolina. This impact includes all sectors of crop and livestock agriculture.

Many hog farmers continue to assist with the ongoing emergency response in their communities, and we are grateful for their efforts. Additionally, we are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers from across the nation for our farmers.

We urge caution and context from the news media when reporting about our farmers.

A note of caution

In advance of the storm, and since its onset, the North Carolina Pork Council has seen widespread instances of inaccurate reporting in the media about the pork industry in the state. For example, on Sunday, Sept. 16, the Associated Press published and distributed nationally a photograph that labeled two garages as a hog farm. In previous years, we have seen photos of municipal waste plants, poultry houses and other agricultural facilities inaccurately labeled as pig farms. We have seen barns that have been empty for multiple years characterized as active hog farms. We urge caution, especially in a breaking news environment where initial information is often inaccurate. It is precisely in these first hours and days that activists with an agenda seek to exploit the media – or the media simply gets it wrong. Our request: Beware of what you hear about hog farms during Hurricane Florence.

Examples

On Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, the AP falsely called two garages a hog farm:

In 2016, the Washington Post falsely called a municipal treatment facility a hog farm:

Additional information

Hog farms & hurricanes: http://www.ncpork.org/primer/

Matthew, and buyouts: http://www.ncpork.org/buyout/

Beware of misleading agendas: http://www.ncpork.org/beware/

The storm’s threat: http://www.ncpork.org/concern/

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Large supplies of meat and dairy, possibly record-setting tons, are coming to U.S. consumers.

For consumers, this can be good news with lower prices at grocery cases. For producers of beef, pork, chicken and milk it doesn’t bode so well.

In a mid-year baseline update for livestock and dairy, University of Missouri economist Scott Brown offers mixed outlooks.

U.S. consumers have shown strong demand. But farmers gearing up for rising exports grew their herds. With shifts in trade and tariff policies, uncertainties cloud markets. If exports falter, supplies will build in this country.

“It is difficult to pin down how much meat and dairy products will go to exports,” Brown says.

Combined per capita pounds of beef, pork, chicken and turkey will be almost 19 pounds more this year compared to 2014. That’s a 9.5 percent boost. Further, a 3.5-pound increase looms in 2019.

“Producers must hope for strong U.S. consumer demand,” Brown says. People eating more could keep products from piling up in freezers. If not, the growing supply moves through the market chain only with price cuts.

With that uncertainty, farm prices are projected to decline for fed cattle, hogs and chickens, Brown says.

“Beef export demand has grown thus far in 2018,” Brown says. For the first half of the year, those exports were up 196 million pounds above 2017. That helped offset a 480-million-pound growth.

For pork, exports grew 176 million pounds out of a 422-million-pound growth, January to June. “Weaker pork prices helped move exports,” Brown adds.

Beef cow herd expansion slowed in 2018. Drought stress on forage and water supplies helped slowing. Beef prices remain under pressure through 2020, Brown says. Demand for high-quality beef slows what could have been bigger price declines.

For hogs, increasing sow numbers with high production per sow pushed pork growth up for the last four years. Growth continues through at least 2020, Brown says.

Exports offset a large part of pork increases. That left per capita supplies at or below historical levels through last year.

Now trade doubts and production growth push domestic pork supplies next year to the highest levels since 1981.

Big supplies of beef and chicken compete with growing pork supplies. The result could be lowest the hog prices in a decade. That dollar drop can lead to financial losses for most hog producers.

Not helping pork is lack of return of the strong bacon demand in 2017.

On the poultry side, wholesale chicken prices hit records for three weeks this spring at $1.20 per pound. That had been seen only two other weeks in history. That was surprising, Brown says. Poultry production was high and chicken in storage was 10 percent above a year ago.

Chicken prices could retreat as production grows and demand returns to normal.

Turkey prices still struggle as they have for the past 18 months.

Egg demand regains footing following two years of low prices.

In the expansion mode, dairy cow numbers will likely grow in 2018 even as milk prices hit the lowest since 2009. Large herds in Texas, Kansas, Idaho and Arizona keep cow numbers largely unchanged.

Dairy exports have remained impressive, Brown says, although low prices triggered federal milk price margin protection for some dairy farms.

High production in livestock and dairy kept the consumer price index for food below 2 percent for the fourth year in 2018. The CPI runs less than the rate of inflation.

This baseline update came in conjunction with the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute baseline. That covers crops and biofuels. Reports are available at fapri.missouri.edu(opens in new window).

Livestock and dairy are covered by Brown and Daniel Madison in the MU Division of Applied Social Sciences. All are in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.