Looking towards World Pork Expo next week

Next week is the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. I expect to visit with many of you at this event. I plan on attending on Wednesday and Thursday and already have a number of meetings scheduled.

You can’t help but speculate about the ‘mood’ of the industry. Last year everyone was looking forward to a profitable year and that happened for most producers. So far this year the spring/summer rally has been slow to develop. Depending on when you priced feed ingredients and whether or not you sold summer pigs on the board for $1.00/lb your outlook could range from rosy to downcast. I know many will also be speculating on whether the PRRS ‘hole’ exists for summer market numbers.

Another item of discussion will be the large number of new facilities being constructed this summer. I stopped at the HogSlat store in Sioux Center, IA on Wednesday and the parking lot was full of new bulk bins destined for new construction sites with more bins yet to come. Do all of the new facilities mean another wave of increased production or are they tied to another wave of older facilities being abandoned? Do we we need more space due to the need for more days in order to hit the heavier weights some packers are targeting? Is the new construction tied to improved reproductive performance and/or is it tied to an increase in the breeding herd that hasn’t shown up in USDA reports as yet?

As I think about the exhibits at Expo I would expect to see an increase in the number of ‘alternative’ exhibitors. These will include alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power or geothermal and alternative feed ingredients/additives.

I would also look for a growing list of exhibitors selling repair materials for barns constructed in the mid to late 90’s. These are now 12-16 years old and many of them are in need of minor and/or major repairs to the slats and interior surface liners. For some of these older facilities, replacement gating and feeders will also be hot topics for exhibitors.

Now that McDonald’s has announced a 10-year phase-out of gestation stalls for their suppliers of pork, look for a lot of interest in alternatives to gestation stalls, whether it is small pens with trickle feeding or large pens with electronic feeding stations (EFS) or other options that we haven’t thought of as yet.

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