DES MOINES - In the face of unprecedented challenges to the U.S. pork industry, thousands of producers and allied industry exhibitors gathered in June for the National Pork Producers Council's 21st annual World Pork Expo. Struggling producer profitability - exacerbated by the effects of the recent H1N1 virus outbreak - weighed heavily on the industry through an otherwise sunny three days at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
While attendance numbers, estimated at 14,625, were down from 2008, the lag was expected - and was, in part, due to the H1N1 virus outbreak's effect on international travel.
"With the market conditions, we knew some pork producers would not be able to make the trip this year," says John Wrigley, World Pork Expo General Manager. "But with the addition of the H1N1 virus issue hitting at exactly the time international visitors had to make travel plans, we believe it had a significant impact on international attendance."
According to many exhibitors, those pork producers who did attend were serious shoppers, looking forward to doing business when profitability changes course.
"Traffic at our booth was down from last year, but the customers who came by were either planning to buy soon or were expecting to make purchases next year," says Mark Hayden, national sales manager of AP, a division of the GSI Group and a major World Pork Expo exhibitor. "Given the industry challenges, we didn't have high expectations for traffic, so we were happy to see customers who are looking optimistically toward the future."
The show's Friday gate numbers were nearly double those typically experienced when the final day fell on Saturday, a clear demonstration that the event's switch to a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday format was seen as a positive for both attendees and exhibitors. "We came in on Sunday to get set up," Hayden says, "so we appreciate being able to be out a day early."
World Pork Expo Breed Show and Junior National
With Junior National participation up significantly and some $500,000 in Breed Show sales, the Swine Barn proved a bright spot at World Pork Expo.
"Sales this year are up from 2008, a great accomplishment for our industry in light of the challenges we have faced," says Darrell Anderson, CEO of the National Swine Registry.
The grand champion and top-selling boar, a Duroc consigned by Malcolm Farms of Indiana, brought $60,000 and was purchased by Hi Point Genetics, Guyer Cattle, JP Enterprises and Newnum, Chrisman, Ill.
World Pork Expo 2010
Next year's World Pork Expo will be held June 9-11, 2010, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. For more information and to reserve exhibit space, visit www.worldpork.org.