North Carolina Pork Industry Stakeholders Touring Shuanghui International Facilities in China

When Shuanghui International announced early last month that they’d be buying Smithfield, Virginia based Smithfield Foods, it created some alarm and a great deal of curiosity. Shuanghui is a virtual unknown in this country and very little was known about their practices or operation. Peter Thornton, Assistant Director of International Marketing with NCDA and several other stakeholders in the state’s pork industry are in China this week learning more about Shuanghui:

“The purpose of the mission, is that we had a major new member of the NC Agricultural community and we felt it was best to go out and introduce ourselves and get to know them.”

Part of this fact-finding mission was to tour Shuanghui’s facilities, which the group did on Wednesday says Thornton:

“We went with Jan Archer and the NC Pork Council and everyone on the team was very impressed with how modern, efficient and clean the facilities were. They had everything at this one facility from slaughter to making the packaging to over 200 different cuts of pork they produce.”

Shortly after the announcement, fears were that pork sold in the US would be of lesser quality than what it is today because China inherently doesn’t observe the same phyto-sanitary standards that US producers do. Those fears have been put to rest because the general consensus is that American pork will be going to China, not coming into the US:

“For us, this is the ultimate of all pork markets. They will consume more than we will ever produce. And from a marketing standpoint, you could not have it better.”

Most hogs in North Carolina belong to Smithfield, one way or the other, and another fear was that boots on the ground hog producers would see changes, not for the better. Thornton says the trade group has met with Shuanghui’s executive team:

“The Chairman of Shuanghui sat down and gave us six guarantees that the existing infrastructure and community involvement will all remain the same. They were clearly impressed with the opportunities with Smithfield and the potential profit they could see with what Smithfield offers. They don’t want to hurt anything that exists.”

And Thornton feels strongly that in time hog producers in the southeast will be pleased with Shuanghui’s ownership:

“The way I look at it – as a tobacco farmer how they feel about Japan Tobacco being in NC buying tobacco. I have not met a farmer that is not happy with that situation. In a few years the hog producers will say the same thing about Shuanghui.”

The fact-finding mission in China will conclude over the weekend. NCDA’s Peter Thornton.


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