Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) said today that the company is well positioned to meet rising demand for ractopamine-free pork, following recent announcements that China and Russia will require third party certification that pork exports are ractopamine-free. Smithfield leads the industry in the production of ractopamine-free pork.
Smithfield has been leveraging its integrated platform to supply ractopamine-free pork to export customers for some time. The company said that its Clinton, North Carolina plant #413 has been 100% ractopamine-free since last year and has been regularly shipping product from that plant since that time. In addition, the company is in the final stages of converting its Tar Heel, North Carolina plant #18079, the world's largest pork processing facility. The Tar Heel plant will be fully converted by March 1, 2013, in time to comply with the new regulatory requirements from China.
Combined, these two east coast plants will supply the market with more than 43,000 ractopamine-free hogs per day. Hogs will be sourced from company-owned farms, as well as contract producers, and will be fed from feed mills that are entirely ractopamine-free.
C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer, said, "As the largest hog producer in the world, Smithfield is uniquely positioned to deliver differentiated products to meet customer specifications – both domestically and abroad. Our business model facilitates responsiveness and insight into customer and consumer needs that are unmatched in our industry. This is a key point of difference and unique selling proposition for our products and brands."
"The conversion of these plants to ractopamine-free is just one example of the flexibility that our vertically integrated model affords us in our ability to adapt to changing consumer demands in the U.S. and in international markets. We believe that this platform will continue to provide a competitive advantage for our company that will add value by fostering customer relationships to increase market share and generate growth," he continued.
In regard to the new third party verification requirement, Mr. Pope remarked that, "We urge the U.S. government to work to quickly and decisively resolve this issue. We are in close contact with the U.S. government to address this situation and our customers in China and Russia are also encouraging their respective governments to develop a protocol with the U.S. government that is acceptable to all parties."
Ractopamine is a safe and effective FDA-approved feed supplement used in the hog farming industry for many years to produce leaner pork. While Smithfield acknowledges that this supplement is widely used as part of a healthy, balanced diet for growing hogs, the company is leveraging its integrated platform to address the growing demand for ractopamine-free pork, primarily in export markets. Smithfield will continue to produce pork with and without this supplement according to customer specifications.