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Welfare, biosecurity key to US pork growth, analyst says

Significant growth could be in store for the US pig sector, provided it recognizes its potential in the global pig market, a leading agricultural analyst has said.

Dr. John Strak, editor of Whole Hog Brief, said the US share of the global pork market was ‘”there for the asking,” but producers and processors need to listen closely to customer needs and respond to global markets.

In an article published on ThePigSite.com, Strak said 2016 was likely to be a year of low prices as increased pig-meat supplies caused by previous high hog prices came to market.

However, US producers and processors could still benefit from recognizing their significance as the world’s third-largest pork producer and exporter, and their potential influence on the global market in the coming years.

“Until recently, [the US hog sector] has been relatively inward-looking, with a ‘doing it my way’ approach to production methods, customer needs and export markets,” he said.

But that has started changing as US producers and packers respond to demand from domestic retailers and overseas customers for supply chains with welfare-friendly practices and hormone-free production.

Strak noted that as the US dollar gains strength, exchange rates could also influence production practices.

“The USA’s performance in export markets is affected by the relative strength of its economy,” he said.

“This implies that US packers and farmers have to produce pig-meat products that exactly fit the specifications of overseas buyers if price isn’t to be the sole determinant of a successful deal.”

Finally, the potential for disease to impact on the industry means that biosecurity is a ‘must-have’, particularly for large US hog units, he said.

The spread of porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PEDv) since 2013 has interrupted the growth of the US hog sector’s productivity, and producers need to take action to avoid another dip.

“Notwithstanding the recent volatility of the US market caused by PEDv and the US dollar’s strength, there can be little doubt that US pork is competitive — and that the supply chain that lies behind US-produced pig meat is more likely to expand than contract,” he added.

“Certainly, it will become more sophisticated and move higher up the value chain. Watch this space.”

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Welfare, biosecurity key to US pork growth, analyst says
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