By: Michelle Semler
It’s hard to imagine but another new year is already upon us. Needless to say 2013 is going to be an interesting year with many challenges that will need to be addressed. The trickle-down effect of the drought is sure to be an issue that leads to an increase in feed prices and an increase in cost of pork for consumers. For this blog I’ve come up with a quick list of five things to look for in 2013 that I feel will affect the pork industry — whether that is the producers, packers, or consumers. Here they are in no specific order:
1) Feed Prices
2) Hog Market Prices
3) Animal Welfare
4) Cost of Pork at Retail for Consumers
5) Communication to Consumer
Let’s start with communication to consumer. Some people may not view this as an important thing to address within pork production. However, I think it easily finds its way to my list of top 5 things to look for in 2013. As many of us are aware, today’s consumers are several generations away from the farm. They have very little knowledge of how the food they purchase at the grocery store actually makes it to their table. Aside, from the generation gaps, sometimes there is a negative portrayal of animal agriculture. For some consumers, this may be the only image of animal agriculture they have. However, Americans are becoming more interested in how safe and wholesome their food is as well as how humanly animals are treated and cared for. What better time than the present to reach out and grab those individuals and inform them of correct animal agriculture practices? Let’s hope they pass this message onto their friends, family, community members, neighbors and more.
Communication with the consumer leads nicely to another one of my top 5 things to look for in 2013 and that is animal welfare issues. Within the last few years this has become a growing topic, and I expect it to keep growing in to 2013. Most of us are well-aware of this issue, so I won’t focus too much on it.
The next few topics I’m going to combine together: feed prices and hog market prices. I’ll begin by saying that I am certainly not an economic expert; however I’m confident in saying it looks like it is going to be a tough financial year for pork producers. The drought this past growing season is showing us increased feed ingredient cost and in particular core feed ingredients for animal agriculture like corn and soybeans. Needless to say, production cost to finish out a hog to market price is going to be high.
With increased production cost I expect to see an increase cost of pork retail for consumers. The issues I choose to look for in 2013 become a full circle in a way as I end with consumers once more. The increased cost may detour many individuals from purchasing pork and instead scope out cheaper alternatives. One of the main reasons consumers purchase food is based upon price. I myself only shop the sale items at the grocery store and suspect many other consumers will be tightening their spending a lot in 2013 as well.
Other issues worth mentioning to look for in 2013 are antibiotic use in livestock, Porcine Reproductive Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), ethanol production, etc…Agriculture is always changing and growing and with that comes new issues every so often that have never been dealt with before. However, I am confident with those individuals involved within the pork industry and that we will grow stronger through 2013 and overcome difficulties.