Working toward good trade relations in Asia
FORT DODGE – China is considering lifting the ban on importing pork that has been fed ractopamine, while the U.S. is working to regain lost market share of pork imports into Japan.
That was part of Gregg Hora’s report Monday night during the Webster County Pork Producers annual meeting and banquet at Eiler’s Steakhouse in Fort Dodge.
Hora was part of a trade mission in November 2015 to both countries sponsored by the U.S. Meat Export Federation through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Both pork and beef producers he said were able to attend to the trip that started in Guangzhou, China and ended in Tokyo, Japan.
Hora said while visiting China, the issue of ractopamine was addressed.
China is one of many countries that ban import of any meat containing traces of the additive.
Ractopamine promotes leanness in livestock raised for meat.
However, Hora said the group learned that China is considering lifting its ban on ractopamine, making U.S. pork products more accessible.
Currently, 500 million hogs are produced annually in China with domestic consumption, Hora said that is 70 pounds of pork per person.
Consumption, he said is expected to rise to 85 pounds of pork per person by the year 2020, proving that pork will remain as a mainstay as a source of protein.
The Chinese, Hora said, are focused on food safety and security.
“They want to know their supply is coming from a reliable source, that is why they bought Smithfield,” he said.
The company that acquired Smithfield, Hora said, is Shuanghui, where the group had the opportunity to tour the plant and have lunch.
Shuanghui has 17 plants located throughout China, and Hora said they visited the newest of those plants which is now 11 years old.
This particular plant, he said, has a kill of 2,000 head per day, which is the largest plant in that particular area of the country, but still small to U.S. standards.
These plants feature on-site ractopamine testing as well as meals provided to their workers and on-site housing.
While in Japan, Hora said the group met with retail customers of the United States pork industry, including Prima Ham, Nippon Ham (pork for this site primarily comes from the Tyson Foods plant in Perry), Sumisho and Ito Ham.
Roughly 20 percent of pork that is sold in Japan, Hora said, originates from the U.S.; however there has been a recent lost market share that went to Europe and Australia.
“We are working to try to rebuild those relationships,” said Hora.
The Japanese focus on quality of pork to sell, but also convenience, Hora said, with much of their meat sold at local convenience stores.
Ninety-five percent of the Japanese are of middle class, with 24 percent disposable income on food and only 40 percent of them are food self-sufficient.
“They import a lot of our meat into their markets,” he said.
The Japanese place an importance, he said, on traceability, appearance and safety on their pork products.
As of now, Hora said, Japan is experiencing a decline in population, but is expected to see a growth in tourism with the 2020 Olympics planned for that country.
As Webster County Pork Producer’s president, Hora introduced the board members then offered an overview on the WPCC’s 2015 community outreach projects
In addition to several grilling events, Hora said WPCC members volunteer time each year to provide education and information to other producers and consumers in the area.
Hora then announced the 2016 scholarship winner as Josh Carlson.
Carlson is a senior at Southeast Valley High School, in Gowrie, and plans to attend Iowa State University in the fall and major in ag-business.
He announced the WPCC will be represented by two queen representatives in 2016 – Tielyr Clabaugh and Micaela Fevold.
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