The World Pork Expo set for June 3-5, 2009, will be the 21st edition of the annual show, locally known as WPX. It was held for the first time on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in 1988 and has gone to claim that it is the largest pork-industry trade show and exhibition in the world. In recent years it has drawn more than 30,000 pork producers, exhibitors and visitors from across the country and around the globe. One of the highlights of this year's event is the pre-show tour that includes a visit to one of the nation's largest pork producers.
The organisers at the National Pork Producers Council say about 500 supply companies will be represented on trade stands at the showground. Trade show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Wednesday and Thursday, with the Friday session opening at 8 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.
The WPX begins this year on a Wednesday, June 3, and runs until Friday June 5 a departure from its former profile as a Thursday/Friday/Saturday event. While the timing may change, however, the venue remains the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
Discussing the new-look timing, away from a Thursday start and mid-Saturday finish to the Wednesday/Thursday/Friday profile, WPX general manager John Wrigley has said, "it is what our visitors and our exhibitors want, a show that is 100% professional and which no longer tries to have an additional audience by inviting in the general public at the weekend.
"We have moved away from the original concept of also drawing in townspeople and consumers from Des Moines and the surrounding area of Iowa to see the pork industry's largest trade show. Our focus now is exclusively on the attendance of producers and their advisers from the swine sector, domestically and internationally."
At the pre-show tour that begins on Monday, June 1, visitors are being offered the chance to visit a Midwest American feed mill that belongs to one of the country's largest pork producers. This visit is included in an industry tour option called Midwest Ag Highlights that will also go to a plant where maize is converted into ethanol. The tour starts on Monday, June 1, 2009, in Des Moines, Iowa, and continues the next day before returning to the city in time for the show.
Pre-show industry tours have become a feature of the annual event. This time, one tour's schedule includes calls at Iowa-based ingredients specialist Kemin Industries and plant genetics company Pioneer Hi-Bred International as well as the animal science department of Iowa State University. Another on the same Monday/Tuesday dates will check on pork processing from plant design and equipment to supermarket shelves and national promotion.
But the Midwest Ag Highlights tour starts by visiting animal health products distributor Ivesco before going on to ethanol producer Hawkeye Renewables. The final stop is at the feed mill of Christensen Farms, which calls itself the largest family-owned swine producer in the US and in the top three nationally for production size. Christensen Farms controls about 175,000 sows, producing some three million pigs per year, at units in six Midwestern states. In addition, it is the largest shareholder and owner of Triumph Foods, ranked second in the US for sow numbers and annual output.
Feed is also strongly in focus at the show from Wednesday onwards. World Pork Expo 2009 will see the launch of the National Swine Nutrition Guide a collaborative project between American universities, agribusinesses and the US Pork Center of Excellence that is housed at the National Swine Research and Information Center on the campus of Iowa State University.
The guide's developers emphasise that it does not seek to replace the Nutrient Requirements of Swine publication from the National Academy of Science (formerly the National Research Council and, therefore, still recognised among livestock nutritionists internationally as NRC). The purpose of the new National Swine Nutrition Guide is to provide recommendations on the basis of the 1998 version of NRC and subsequent research results.
American pork producers used to have access to bulletins from their state extension advisory services but most such bulletins have ceased to exist after cutbacks in the number of qualified extension swine nutrition specialists trained to write or update such documents.