This year’s World Pork Expo reflected an optimistic tone as more than 20,000 producers and ag professionals, including 1,100 international guests from 35 countries, convened at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines, June 8-10. Presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the 28th annual Expo featured the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, a range of educational seminars and issue updates, and another Junior National swine show that filled the barns to capacity. The Big Grill served up more than 10,000 lunches; allied industry hospitality tents lined the streets of the Iowa State Fairgrounds; and MusicFest provided an evening of fun and fellowship.
“World Pork Expo is a place where pork producers can network and share ideas, see the latest innovations for their businesses and broaden their expertise through a range of educational seminars and updates,” says John Webber, NPPC president and pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “U.S. pork producers are optimistic by nature and are looking forward to new packing capacity coming online. Some are upgrading facilities and expanding production, and all are hoping to continue to supply high-quality pork to the world through further export growth.”
Trade show aisles overflow with innovation
The World Pork Expo trade show offers pork producers from throughout the world a one-stop opportunity to shop for the latest products, services and technologies for their businesses. As the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, this year’s offering involved 435 commercial exhibits from companies based in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, Mexico, South Korea, Denmark, China, Canada and Australia. A newly renovated outdoor exhibit space showcased even more allied industry displays and hospitality tents this year. Exhibitors reported good traffic flow of producers who were upbeat and shopping for new products as well as upgrades for existing facilities.
As long-time Expo exhibitor, VAL-CO’s representatives have watched producers navigate a range of ups and downs over the years. “This is one of the better years I’ve seen. Producers all seemed optimistic,” says Joseph Ulicny, marketing specialist with VAL-CO, New Holland, Pennsylvania. “Producers are pretty consistent in their business approach; they want to get the most out of their barns and animals by providing the proper nutrition, environment and daily care.”
Ulicny reports Expo attendees were inquiring about equipment for new construction as well as retrofitting and upgrading existing barns. “Producers come to Expo to see innovations, to see what’s new and to see how we can help them maximize efficiencies,” he adds.
A new exhibitor to Expo this year was Biofence, with a new product – The Biofence VS-1: Portable vehicle sanitizing system.
“In terms of exhibitors and producers attending Expo, there is a good mix and representation of the industry,” says Teresa Esler, vice president of Biofence, Minneapolis, Minnesota. “It’s always good when you can come together and have conversations with other people in the industry about solving problems, and biosecurity is a high-priority issue that people are interested in addressing.
“We have had some very good conversations with people, developed more awareness of our product and gotten a lot of positive feedback,” she adds. “We’re excited to expand our contacts; and we’ll come back to Expo.”
Junior National continues its strong showing
This year, the World Pork Expo Junior National started on Monday, June 6, to accommodate the ever-expanding program. Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred, the Junior National of has evolved into one of the nation’s premiere youth swine shows and educational events. In all, 948 youth from 30 states participated in showmanship, swine judging and live-hog competitions through June 10. Other activities during the week included Youth PQA Plus® certification and a Skillathon, which tests contestants’ pork production knowledge.
The Junior National shows included 2,351 hogs this year, up slightly from 2015’s record setting numbers. Juniors also can join other swine breeders and enter their hogs in the open shows, which took place on Friday, June 10, with more than 1,090 crossbred and purebred boars and gilts. Hog sales on Saturday morning wrapped up the live-hog exhibition, offering Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, Poland China, Spotted and Yorkshire, as well as crossbred gilts and boars. The sale total exceeded $1.1 million. Individual results for the open shows and sales for the various breeds can be found online at the National Swine Registry blog or at Certified Pedigreed Swine.
A venue to exchange information and ideas
Expo gives pork producers the opportunity to collect and share information, whether it occurs one-on-one, within a seminar or consulting with one of the nation’s leading pork experts. More than a dozen free business seminars and PORK Academy presentations this year updated pork producers on ways to maximize their competitive advantage from the farrowing house to the global marketplace. Expo sessions also addressed some cutting-edge topics, outlining the importance of cyber security, how to prepare for a common industry audit and the upcoming changes to on-farm antibiotic use beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
Enhancing Expo’s social aspect, MusicFest provided a festive evening of free music and an abundance of tasty pork on Thursday, June 9. Rounding out the offering of savory grilled pork, volunteers from Iowa’s Tama County Pork Producers Association served up more than 10,000 free lunches from the ever-popular Big Grill during Expo’s 2 1/2 days.
Market outlook presentations, discussions on international trade issues and the impact on pork exports provided a long-term outlook to help with producers’ strategic planning.
“World Pork Expo has so much to offer that it’s easy to find a program or activity that fits your needs,” NPPC’s Webber says. “I would encourage pork producers to bring family members and employees to next year’s Expo. It’s a great place to find practical solutions, visit with allied industry [and] see what’s new and plan for the future.”
NPPC has announced dates for the 2017 World Pork Expo: June 7-9, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Save the dates – it’s never too early to start making plans to attend.