Jim Long, President and CEO Genesus Genetics
Every January the Iowa Pork Congress is held in Des Moines Iowa. It is the premier winter trade show in the United States and gets visitors from all across the country
The Iowa Pork Congress was held the same time this year as the Davos’ Global Economic Forum in Switzerland. We wondered if Iowa Pork Congress was the Davos’ of the Pork Industry with the snow like Davos’ minus the mountains, billionaires, helicopters, private jets, etc. To be clear, our wondering stopped quickly. There is no comparison!
What Iowa really had last week was a political bonanza. The Iowa Caucus, held every four years were ten days from the vote. Iowa is the first vote for the U.S. presidential candidates.
Last week the TV channels were inundated by political advertising. For TV stations and other media in Iowa, the caucus must be like the four-year hog cycle. Every four years they get a big surge in income.
The Iowa Pork Congress had lots of exhibitors, probably more from what we could see than in the past years. Attendance was solid but probably effected by some icy weather that kept some people away.
The attitude of producers was termed by one person as “Growly”. Not a happy production base. More than one producer said they hadn’t made money for over a year and a half.
As far as expansion in the industry it’s hard to figure. This time of year, every year there are lots of quoting for new sow barns. Then the potential expanders go to the bank and find out if they can get money. A place where dreams die.
Talking to one packer, he said he was surprised if the production sector is losing money, why has there been an expansion in inventory. Good question. We didn’t have an answer.
A number of people we spoke to were riled up. Their belief, that carcasses are still not going into U.S. pork cut-out data. Was supposed to start January 1st. We expect there might have been some delay but the U.S.D.A. will get sorted soon.
China, China, China.
Producers are glad that Phase 1 of the trade deal is signed. Now they hope to see lots more pork going to China. Some producers spoke of the sad part that producer prosperity depends on more trade to China.
It’s the Reality. Maybe a grim reality, but “it is what it is.”
Genesus U.S. sales team had a meeting prior to the Iowa Pork Congress. As a group, we did a field trip to Fareway store. The regional store is selling Genesus derived Duroc Pork as its premier product. On every product item, it’s a minimum $1.00 lb. higher than the comparison pork.
Fareway stores feature butchers serving from behind glass meat cases. They are salesmen behind the counter.
We asked the head butcher “When customers ask why the Duroc Pork (Genesus) is worth over a $1.00 lb more, what do you say?” Answer “It tastes better!”. He added, “Once they try it they always come back for more.”
“Taste better” not because it’s a Duroc, it’s because the Genesus Duroc has more marbling, firmness and redder pork. All Durocs are not the same! If we use a so-called Duroc but it won’t qualify for legal use of Duroc name in U.S. meat case, is it really a Duroc? It won’t grow our industry.
If we want to grow our industry we need to produce pork that “tastes better”.
Maybe this is an oversimplification but as pork producers, we chase $1.00 in the cost of production in a hog. When demand drives price, such as taste can potentially increase hog values by $10 bills.
My youngest son is 17, he works at McDonald’s part-time. He cooks and puts together meals. The store he works at would be considered in a higher-income area. He estimates that for every 200 burgers there are about 2 that are plant-based. Small focus group but not a resounding testament to demand for plant-based burgers. There is hype, then reality.