Smithfield Foods saw its net income soar 479 percent to reach a record high of $105.3 million during the first quarter of 2014, the company reported on May 14. The surge in profits showed the economic benefit of Smithfield’s strategic merger with China's WH Group in 2013, Smithfield’s president and CEO said.

Sales for the first quarter were $3.4 billion, a 3 percent increase when compared to the first quarter of 2013. All of Smithfield Foods’ business segments – Fresh Pork, Packaged Meats, Hog Production and International -- had higher operating profits for the quarter.

"Our results reflect outstanding execution at the operating level, better markets and an improved export environment owing, in good measure, to our strategic combination with WH Group. On that front, we are opportunistically pursuing exciting growth opportunities in the enormous and rapidly growing Chinese pork market that we expect will yield dividends for years to come," said C. Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods.

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"I am particularly pleased with our progress in the packaged meats segment. Notwithstanding an overall volume decline related to the late timing of the Easter holiday, we nonetheless achieved broad-based gains in market share and distribution in key product categories and, importantly, we were able to maintain margins in the face of historically high raw material prices. We are continuing to build our brands through investments in targeted, high-impact consumer marketing, as well as capital improvements in our manufacturing platform."

Pope added that fresh pork margins were above seasonal norms, as meat values outpaced the historical run up in live hog prices.

"I applaud the entire Smithfield team for delivering a record first quarter with gains across our entire platform. This achievement underscores our focus and strength as a global food company as part of WH Group," Pope said.