World Pork Expo just completed its 27th year, drawing approximately 20,000 pork producers and other professionals from 41 countries to Des Moines, Iowa, June 3-5.
The 2015 Expo featured the world's largest pork-specific trade show, while its Junior National again set records for youth participation. The Big Grill served up 10,000 free pork lunches, a range of seminars attracted abundant crowds, and meaningful discussions about global issues, from trade agreements to the future of antibiotics, occurred throughout the week.
At the heart of World Pork Expo is the trade show, which features hundreds of commercial exhibits from companies based in North America, Asia and Europe.
"Expo is a great place to come and talk to the different exhibitors; it's really the only time producers typically have access to this variety of companies and products," says Wilbert Johnston with JBS United, based in Illinois. "The people who are really serious about pork production are likely going to be at Expo."
Although margins have narrowed considerably from last year's record levels, 2015 is projected to be profitable for most pork producers, according to exhibitors. Hog numbers are up, and some facility renovation and expansion are reported to be underway.
"Everybody is positive," says Gary Wyse, with Nedap Identification Systems, which is headquartered in The Netherlands. "We had a lot of people interested in our equipment. They may not be looking for something to put in place immediately, but they are looking down the road and exploring what possibilities are available."
For both Johnston and Wyse, 2015 marked their ninth Expo. They agreed producers of all ages and with various operation sizes are watching pork production trends to evaluate what changes are needed to remain financially viable.
Junior National shatters records
Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred, the World Pork Expo Junior National included 200 first-time participants among the 975 youth from 29 states who took part in the educational programs, competitions and hog shows.
To accommodate the growth, Junior National events began on June 2 with Youth PQA Plus certification and 658 juniors exhibiting in showmanship competitions. More than 200 youth competed in the Skillathon, which measures knowledge of pork production, as well as in the judging contests.
The Junior National shows included 2,200 hogs this year, marking a 38% increase from the record set in 2014. Some juniors also exhibited their hogs in the open shows, which included more than 1,000 crossbred and purebred boars and gilts.
The hog sales that followed on Saturday morning totaled well over $1 million for consignors with Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, Poland China, Spot, Yorkshire, and crossbred gilts and boars.
Education and community service
A vital part of Expo, 14 business seminars and PORK Academy presentations provided useful information on topics ranging from herd health and strategies for managing emerging diseases, to a review of export and marketing opportunities.
Mouthwatering pork was easy to find throughout the Expo grounds, including the 10,000 free grilled-pork lunches served by volunteers from Iowa's Tama County Pork Producers Association.
Once again, World Pork Expo and NPPC made a significant contribution to the community by presenting Domino's Pizza gift cards to two Des Moines service organizations.
The Youth Emergency Services & Shelter, a well-established child welfare agency, received $1,000 in gift cards, while the Food Bank of Iowa was given $5,000 in gift cards to supplement food supplies made available to people in need. NPPC selected Domino's because of the company's ongoing support of U.S. pork producers.
NPPC has announced dates for the 2016 World Pork Expo: June 8-10.
Source: World Pork Expo/NPPC