Weekly Overview: Highlights of the World Pork Expo

ANALYSIS – Among the topics receiving attention at the World Pork Expo in the US last week were disease issues – the recent piglet diarrhoea virus and the logistical implications of a serious notifiable disease outbreak in the nation’s swine herds. With exports accounting for around a quarter of US pork production, there was also discussion on the repercussions of the Smithfield-Shuanghui merger, international trade agreements and the limiting factors for growth of the industry.
calendar icon 10 June 2013
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The World Pork Expo (WPX) celebrated its 25th anniversary in Des Moines, Iowa, last week. The organisers report that there were approximately 20,000 attendees who had the opportunity to browse more than 400 trade show exhibits as well as participating in a seminar programme covering a wide range of pork industry topics including animal well-being, business and environmental management and production efficiency.

The recent outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus (PEDV) in the US was of foremost concern at WPX.

The disease was officially confirmed in mid-May 2013, although laboratory evidence indicates that the index case occurred a month previously. So far, eight states have confirmed the existence of the disease, and it is expected that two more states will soon be confirmed with PEDV. Iowa is one of those states with confirmed PEDV. The US Midwest has been the affected area so far.

National Pork Board led a session to discuss the situation, reporting that there is a coordinated effort by all stakeholders to understand what has happened and control the disease.

Every day, one million pigs are transported to different locations across the US, according to Dr James A. Roth of Iowa State University, addressing another WPX seminar. Discussing the implications of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the country and focusing on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), he explained that should an outbreak occur, issuing a stop movement order actually causes the disease to worsen in animals as they would be stuck on trucks. One million pigs would have nowhere to go.

Despite the merger of the country’s top pig producer/processor with China’s leading meat company and the challenges of this year’s maize and soybean difficult growing seasons, the limiting factor on US pig meat output in the medium term may be processing capacity, according to a leading industry analyst. Dr Steve Meyer was speaking at a press conference at WPX.

Also on the theme of the US pork market, a Pork Checkoff-sponsored seminar addressed the issues affecting US pork exports and world markets. According to a speaker from the National Pork Board, last year, the US overtook the European Union to become the top exporter of pig meat in the world. Exports accounted for 27 per cent of total production. Export volume in 2012 was up slightly at 4.987 billion pounds but the value was up 3.5 per cent from 2011 at $6.3 billion.

For 2013, first quarter exports have been adversely impacted by trade disputes and were down 11 per cent in value and 12 per cent in volume from the same period last year.

Thirty pigs per sow and year is achievable in the US, according to speakers at a seminar entitled ‘Sow Nutrition and Management in Focus’. The event featured six speakers representing pork producers, university professors and industry suppliers, addressing a full house on the issue of getting the most productivity from sows.

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