Optimistic presence at World Pork Expo 2024

12-06 | Updated on 16-07 | |
Photos: Vincent ter Beek
Photos: Casey Bradley

The annual World Pork Expo (WPX) was held on June 5-6 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, IA, United States. The event saw record-breaking attendance with an estimated 12,000 attendees and 395 exhibiting companies.

Optimism in the US market

Dr Steve Meyer.
Dr Steve Meyer. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Dr Steve Meyer highlighted the optimism in the USA pork market, noting a record-high export rate of 27%, translating to 9% growth. However, the anticipated $10/head profit for producers is swinging back to negative margins due to factors such as Tyson’s plant closure in Perry, IA, improved productivity, global production rebound from ASF and lower consumer spending.

Dr Meyer presented data showing a 4.6% increase in pigs saved per litter from December to February compared to the previous year. Reduced shackle space is expected to squeeze producers without sound contracts, with fall spot hog futures predicted to drop to $40-50 per hundredweight (CWT; a US measure of 100 lbs or 45.4 kg).

Dr Meyer warned of Brazil’s scaling efforts in the swine industry, paralleling their success in poultry and beef exports. He suggested that, with current demand levels, the US swine industry would need to reduce its sow herd from 6 million to 4 million if all sow farms performed at the top level.

Equipment highlights

Since the final ruling of the US Supreme Court on upholding California’s Prop 12, many equipment suppliers had their free-access stalls on display. But what was prevalent on the tradeshow floor was the amount of turn-around farrowing stalls. That highlights the ultimate future legislation of individual states, like California, to impact how the industry manages its animals.

World Pork Expo
IHT’s Cooling Pad won the prestigious New Product Award for 2024.

The highlight of the equipment space went to IHT’s Cooling Pad that won the prestigious New Product Award for 2024. The cooling pad along with their heat pads allow for micro-environments within the farrowing crate that ultimately allow both the sow and piglets to be comfortable and thrive. The technology was originally developed out Purdue University in Indiana, USA and is gaining traction in swine production systems that experience long term heat stress, such as Central and South America. However, further research indicates the benefits of the cooling pads in even cooler environments.

Attention for women in agriculture

During WPX there were various seminars. Zinpro organised the inaugural “Elevate Women in Ag” event by surveying female colleagues and customers in the USA to understand their needs. The survey revealed a strong desire to learn about work-life balance and career advancement strategies, rather than traditional technical topics. Crystal Blin, an “ag influencer,” was the keynote speaker, focusing on styling tips and career insights, emphasising that a career should not solely define one’s success.

Kacee Bohle of Agriminds discussed work-life balance and conducted a personality workshop based on the Working Genius Assessment. Key take-aways included the prevalence of burnout in agriculture and the idea that balance varies for each individual.

Young Professional Engagement

Seminars by the National Pork Board were well attended. Photo: Casey Bradley

This year’s WPX featured the inaugural “Young Pork Advocates Issues Meet” scholarship competition. Young swine professionals, aged 17-22, competed on various pork industry issues, with Emma Kuhns winning a $2,500 scholarship and a trip to participate in NPPC’s Fly-In lobbying event this fall. Additionally, the NPPC introduced college-aged students involved in the show pig industry to the commercial sector, fostering future leadership. 

The NPPC and NPB hosted several educational seminars, including industry-sponsored ones. Kent Nutrition, Anitox and Alltech presented seminars on continuous improvement, feed mitigation strategies, and making the USA swine industry a global leader in sustainability. Business seminars covered current economics, building trust, consumer trends, carbon markets and other hot topics.


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