China and Russia have said they will require third-party certification to prove pork exports are ractopamine-free and Smithfield has said it is well-positioned to meet the demands.
According to the company, its Clinton plant in North Carolina has been 100% ractopamine-free since last year and has been regularly shipping products to customers. Additionally, the company is in the final stage of converting its Tar Heel plant in North Carolina, which it said is the world’s largest pork processing facility and will be ready by March this year.
The combination of output from the two North Carolina plants will allow Smithfield to supply the market with more than 43,000 ractopamine-free pigs each day. The pigs will be sourced from farms owned by Smithfield, as well as some contract producers. The pigs will be fed from feed mills, which are “entirely ractopamine-free”.
President and chief executive officer at the company C Larry Pope 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 US and in international markets. We believe 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.”
On the subject of the need for third-party verification, Pope said Smithfield is urging the US government to work quickly and decisively in order to fix the issue. He said Smithfield was in close contact with the government to address the situation. He added that they were encouraging their customers in China and Russia to work with their respective governments to develop a protocol that was acceptable to all parties.
Pope added: “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.”