July 19, 2024

World Pork Expo bouncing back after pandemic challenges

DES MOINES, Iowa — What the hot topic of conversation will be is obvious — the May 11 Supreme Court decision upholding the 2018 California ballot initiative, Proposition 12.

But the organizers of the World Pork Expo are taking things in their stride as they prepare to mark 35 years of the country’s largest swine-specific trade show and conference.

“We have a lot of things for folks to see and a lot of things for folks to do,” said Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing for the National Pork Producers Council.

The 2023 World Pork Expo takes place June 7-9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

After two consecutive years of not having the event — the show was canceled in 2019 due to concerns over African swine fever and biosecurity and then in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Fricke said he thinks the expo has returned to a pre-pandemic status.

The show picked back up in 2021 and has been regaining ground since.

“It’s getting the world back on its feet as far as the companies we attract, as vendors and exhibitors. It’s getting producers back and used to going to something in June. They were used to coming to World Pork Expo every year and then, all of a sudden, for two years, it’s not there,” Fricke said.

“A lot of business is done over the phone, but face-to-face contact is still what people thrive with and love to have. What better place to have that contact than at World Pork Expo?”

As pork production has changed in the United States and around the globe over the last 35 years, the World Pork Expo has mirrored the changes.

“In the beginning, World Pork Expo started out as a producer and consumer event. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the focus went more toward the producer side of the equation and attracting those folks so they could really use the event to find out what’s happening in the industry, what’s the new technology,” Fricke said. “Of late, the expo is purely producer focused.”

Fricke’s priority is the trade show and he sees the newest, latest and greatest just like anyone attending — by walking the trade show floor.

“I don’t see any of these products until I get there. It’s the first thing I do is walk around and see what’s new and different,” he said.

Fricke said he is encouraged by the growth of the trade show since the two years of not having an expo.

“We’ve got a trade show that has grown again. We’ve grown since the cancellations in ‘19 and ‘20 back to pre-pandemic numbers as far as exhibitors and the number of companies at the event,” he said.

“We are up again this year in the neighborhood of 10 or 15 companies that have not been in the show since 2018, so we are seeing a good amount of growth from that standpoint. They are all wanting to get in front of producers to share what’s new and different.”

The trade show will introduce producers to what’s new and different in terms of swine technology, from diets and nutrition to animal and human health and safety and comfort.

Two separate tracks of seminars, business seminars sponsored by various industry partners, and the Pork Academy, sponsored by the National Pork Board, will bring speakers addressing the latest topics and industry information.

The business seminar topics include: Turning Animal Agriculture’s Toughest Challenges into Our Biggest Opportunities, which features Alltech President and CEO Mark Lyons talking about the use of digital technology in the swine industry; Because Health and Nutrition are No Longer Two Separate Conversations, which features speakers from Cargill and the Swine Vet Center talking about nursery health in the U.S. swine industry; Economics Shaping the Pork Industry, sponsored by ADM, featuring a panel of experts discussing the economic outlook of the pork industry; Because If You Aren’t Optimizing Profits, Nothing Else Matters, featuring a roundtable discussion with experts in marketing, nutrition and production who will discuss optimizing profits and reaching your operation’s goals; and ScaleUp Program: Optimizing Pork Produced Per Sow Lifetime, sponsored by NOVUS, featuring a panel discussion that will examine how nutrition can add to efficiency and sustainability.

The Pork Academy is a series of seminars sponsored by Pork Checkoff. The 2023 Pork Academy seminars include: Porkonomics: An Economic Outlook for the Pork Industry, Is Gene Editing the Next Frontier?, FAD Defense: From Ag K9s to On-Farm Solutions, Using Your Sustainability Data to Protect Your Farm’s Legacy, Advancing Profits and Sustainability by Improving Pig Survivability, Global Pork Market Update and Opportunities, and Proving the Industry’s Chops: Tackling a 30-year Challenge.

Registration is required to attend World Pork Expo and people planning to attend can register online. Same-day registration will be available on-site.

For more information, go to www.worldpork.org or call 515-278-8012.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor