Gregg Hora

This time of year is when Iowa pork producers see a large inventory of hogs, as consumers cut back on backyard barbecues.

The latest reports show a record number of hogs. Gregg Hora of Fort Dodge, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says despite recent trade tariffs that hurt prices, producers remain optimistic the world wants U.S. pork as sow herds expand in Iowa and elsewhere.

“We’ve had investment in hog facilities, we’ve had investment in infrastructure, we’ve had investment in packing plants and processing facilities to feed a growing and emerging market around the world,” Hora says. New trade agreements have recently been signed between the U.S. and Mexico, Canada and Japan, while Hora hopes an agreement with China can soon be reached. The fifth largest buyer of American pork is South Korea.

“We have to have optimism knowing that in the past year, South Korea has increased the volume of pork being imported into their country from the U.S. by nearly 40%,” Hora says, “which is about a 50% increase in value.” Consumers at home and abroad realize Iowa pork is a great value, he says, and they may soon be able to find additional savings.

Hora says, “In the United States, we spend less than 10% of our take-home income on food, but emerging countries are spending 20-25% of their take-home income on food and a country like Japan, they’re spending 18-20% of their take-home income on food.” He says producers are constantly working on identifying new markets for pork and new ways to serve pork.

Iowa ranks first in the nation for pork production with more than 22-million head statewide.

(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)