Nearly 20,000 pig industry professionals from 39 countries attended the 2011 World Pork Expo, the largest pork-specific trade show, June 8-10 in Des Moines, Iowa. During the show, Pig International editors shot 16 videos covering what is keeping pig producers up at night and what trends to watch for in the next year.

Feed takes center stage 

Most World Pork Expo attendees were mentioning one four-letter word quite frequently during the show—feed. Corn and soy costs are quickly eating up pig producer’s profit margins. To offset these high costs, Dan Meagher, president of global animal nutritional solutions for Novus International, said many are looking to alternative feed ingredients.

“We heard optimism about marketing prospects along with healthy concern regarding the availability of affordable feed from the producers at World Pork Expo this year,” said Doug Wolf, NPPC president.

Diverting corn for biofuel also has pig producers concerned that animal feed corn may be in short supply for 2012, if bad weather continues to plague an already late planting season, said Randy Spronk, National Pork Producers Council vice president.

On a positive note, global pig meat demand remains high but Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics is cautiously forecasting a loss of $5 per pig because of high feed costs this year and potentially larger losses into 2012 due to the uncertainty of feed costs.

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Pig industry issues 

Carbon footprint and sustainable agriculture were also top of mind for pig producers. Dr. Rick Ulrich, professor of chemical engineering at University of Arkansas, helped develop free software with the National Pork Board for pig producers to calculate greenhouse gases and reduce their carbon tax. The free software is available at www.pork.org/sustainability. In his exclusive interview, Dr. Ulrich explains what information is needed for an analysis and how it can help reduce energy costs and make your operation more efficient.

Antibiotics are another area pig producers are watching carefully. Pig producers who use antibiotics properly for treatment, prevention and control of diseases and nutritional efficiency have healthier pigs and safe meat, according to Dr. Howard Hill, National Pork Producers Council director and veterinarian. Dr. Hill’s interview discusses US legislation that would eliminate the use of antibiotics for nutritional efficiency.

Food labeling legislation is already underway in the European Union and the United States. Labeling requirements for pork and poultry indicating lean and fat percentages will be more evident to consumers, according to Betsy Booren, director, scientific affairs, American Meat Institute. In her interview, raw meat will be required to have a mandatory nutrition facts panel in 2012.