WPX: Purdue's Jayson Lusk shares pork industry economic trends post-pandemic

The pandemic has had a significant impact on trends in the pork industry, including the innovation in plant-based meat products and increased investment in new technology.
calendar icon 26 July 2021
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Jayson Lusk, economics professor at Purdue University, discusses trends in the pork industry with The Pig Site's Sarah Mikesell

“I picked a handful of themes that are big macro trends that are affecting the industry and tried to pick out the opportunities that may be there for pork producers,” said Lusk who presented at a luncheon held at World Pork Expo. “I discussed some of the pressures related to sustainability that are coming down the road, mainly because of investor groups who are impacting retailers and food processors. It’s also important that innovation and entrepreneurship occur to meet some of these new sustainability metrics.”

Jayson Lusk also mentioned disruptions the pork industry has faced from COVID-19 and how they progressed through those disruptions. In a post-pandemic world, there are many new opportunities as well. There’s been an emergence of alternative, plant-based meats which may lead to more opportunities for new blended products and marketing options. What the world considers “meat” is changing, and while it may be threatening to some, these new opportunities are possible. Inflation concerns also exist post-pandemic, and Lusk said that will be important to monitor within the next few months.

Another trend in the pork industry is the rise of start-up businesses and new innovation companies coming into the industry. These companies are offering new technologies, including plant-based meat, that offer opportunities to help the world feed the extra billions of people that will exist within the upcoming decades.

“One big trend that's existed for the last five or six years is the increasing amounts of investment dollars flowing into the ag space,” said Lusk. “This money is not from traditional kinds of companies, but from venture capital, similar to a Silicon Valley type of investment. I don't think they're entirely accurate, but they have a view that agriculture is somehow analog. I think they also realize sometimes that the ag world is very complicated, but there are plenty of opportunities to improve. It's really interesting to see what's out there - companies selling sensors, automatic feeders, heat monitors, genetics of all sorts. It's just amazing to see what kinds of innovations are happening in the sector right now.”

He said the important question to consider in the future is if it will be worth it for producers to invest in the additional data capture and technology. It is important and beneficial that producers can capture as much data as long as they can use it to their advantage.

Claire Mintus

Contributing writer

More in this series: 2021 World Pork Expo

October - September 2021

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