The Future of The Pork Industry

The global pandemic has food processors adjusting to new protocols, but it will take time for suppliers to return to full capacity.

One producer says that coronavirus has become the pandemic, as well as the paradox. Bradley Wolter, CEO of The Maschhoff, states, “On top of this large number of pigs, we got an all-time record high of live hogs...At the same point in time, here we sit with empty store shelves...How did that happen?”

Packing plants are not able to process as many pigs even as they begin to reopen. Wolter notes, “At one point, less than 60 percent, less than 50 percent of plant capacity, and of course once you lose that capacity you don’t get it back quickly.” He goes on to say that a tricky part of the pork industry is how fast hogs grow, and today there is around 3 million hogs backlogged.

An economist says that looking ahead may be bleak, as the sharp decline of hog slaughter rates from April to May rattles the trajectory of the pork industry. According to ag economics professor, Gary Schnitkey, “This is a substantial decline, we were actually looking at a production well-above average at the beginning of 2020; now, we’re well below it.”

In the long-run, experts say they expect the industry to advance and increase efficiency, and they hope the industry will become more productive because of it.