Smithfield Foods Inc., the largest hog producer and largest pork processor in the U.S., has reported that the company "is well positioned" to the meet the increasing demand for ractopamine-free pork in the wake of the announcements from China and Russia that their markets will be open only to ractopamine-free pork. Importantly, the details for Russia and China are still to be determined.
Smithfield said it has been leveraging its integrated platform to supply customers with ractopamine-free pork for some time, noting that its plant in Clinton, N.C., has been 100% ractopamine-free since last year and that its plant in Tar Heel, N.C. -- the largest pork processing plant in the world -- will be fully ractopamine-free by March 1.
Combined, the two plants will handle 43,000 ractopamine-free hogs per day sourced from company-owned and contract farms and fed from company feed mills that are dedicated to ractopamine-free feeds, according to the announcement.
Smithfield chief executive officer and president C. Larry Pope said the company's integrated operations make it "uniquely qualified to deliver differentiated products" to customers, as exemplified in the current situation.
He said the company is "in close contact" with the U.S. government and with customers in China and Russia to encourage the U.S., Chinese and Russian governments to develop certification protocols.
Pope also emphasized that ractopamine is an effective and safe feed supplement that has been approved by the Food & Drug Administration and that has been used in hog production for many years to produce lean pork. He said Smithfield will continue to produce pork with and without this supplement to meet various customer specifications.
Smithfield, headquartered in Smithfield, Va., has sales totaling $13 billion.