The size of the hog farm does not define the quality of pork produced. The strength of the pork industry is its diversity. Consumers’ preferences worldwide are as varied as the individuals doing their part to place the world’s No. 1 animal protein on the global table.
As the National Pork Board eloquently says “Pork is the most consumed animal protein in the world, with its great flavor translating into any language.”
With 96% of the world’s population living outside of the United States, the global marketplace offers the most potential to sell more pork, and it cannot be ignored. Profits are based on selling the whole hog. Over 90% of variety meats saved for human consumption are shipped overseas; items like snouts and feet that Americans will never purchase.
Stepping back, think how far America’s pig farmers have come. In 1989, the United States was a net importer of pork and today a net exporter. Since then, trade agreements have increased U.S. pork exports 1,550% in value and 1,300% in volume. Last year, U.S. pork was bought by consumers in more than 100 countries and exported to every continent except Antarctica.
Regardless if your pork remains domestically or enters the global marketplace, robust exports benefit all American pig farmers. In 2016, the United States exported nearly $6 billion worth of pork or 26% of U.S. pork and pork variety meat produced, adding $50 in value to the price of each hog marketed. For every $1 million of pork variety meat shipped abroad, the live value in U.S. hogs climbs by $0.20 per hundredweight. So, no matter the number of pigs passing through your barn, selling pork on the global market scene has added $50.20 to the market price of hogs.
With all the talk on the global pork trade, it may seem the smaller producer is forgotten. One-sizes-fits-all cuts of pork will not satisfy consumers at home or around the globe. Each market will demand something different. Some consumers want more tasty pounds of pork for their buck whereas others want a unique dining experience. Every producer individually needs to decide their fit in the pork sector, their market sweet spot and seize the opportunity. It takes an entire pork tribe to fulfill the world’s appetite for pork and keep U.S. pork at the center of the plate.