Wrapping up its 26th year, the 2014 World Pork Expo attracted nearly 20,000 pork producers and other professionals from 32 countries to Des Moines, Iowa, June 4-6.
Sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council, Expo featured the world's largest pork-specific trade show, with some 375 commercial exhibits from companies throughout the world. The three-day event also set records for number of pigs entered in the World Pork Expo Junior National and creation of the world's largest pork burger, while attracting standing-room-only crowds in some of its educational seminars.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also visited Expo to announce a new reporting program for porcine endemic diarrhea virus.
"World Pork Expo is a place where producers can get together, share ideas and see what's new, whether it involves herd health and management, or technology and equipment," says Howard Hill, NPPC president. "It's a showcase of our business and this year, producers had a truly positive outlook about what the future holds. Expo probably offers the best display of what modern pork production is all about."
With record-setting U.S. hog prices and reduced feed costs offering a profitable outlook, Expo exhibitors reported that producers are optimistic about U.S. pork production and are formulating plans for the future. The general consensus is that producers are focused on upgrading, remodeling and reinvesting.
"Today's producers are very professional and precise," says Mark Hayden, national sales manager for Automated Production Systems, which is headquartered in Assumption, Illinois. "They are looking for new technologies and innovative ways to make their jobs easier and more efficient."
Another record-setting youth show
In just 11 years, the World Pork Expo Junior National has grown from 120 hogs to this year's record of more than 1,600 head exhibited by nearly 750 youth from 25 states. Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred, the World Pork Expo Junior National has become a premier event for young swine exhibitors, and includes showmanship competitions, judging contests and educational sessions.
Concluding Expo's swine exhibition was the open show, with nearly 600 hogs. At the sales on Saturday, June 7, a crossbred gilt shown by Ashlee Daniels of McKinney, Texas, was the top-selling gilt, setting a world record at $50,000. The highest-selling boar was the reserve champion Duroc shown by Nathan Weisinger, Fort Madison, Iowa; it sold for $90,000.
Pork burger and entertainment
The world's largest pork burger was assembled at this year's Expo as part of a special outreach to the community, thanks to the joint efforts of Hog Slat, NPPC and Vinny's BBQ.
The precooked weight of the mammoth burger, including bun, was 348 pounds — breaking the record set at the 2012 World Pork Expo. The majority of the burger was donated to Des Moines' Youth Emergency Services & Shelter, with MusicFest attendees also able to sample the record-breaking burger.
Looking ahead to next year, NPPC announced the dates for the 2015 World Pork Expo — June 3-5, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
"World Pork Expo is certainly an event that everyone in pork production needs to put on their calendar," Hill says. "It is the place to learn about new innovations, designs and engineering that help us raise our animals responsibly wherever we farm."