Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the 2013 World Pork Expo attracted nearly 20,000 pork producers and leaders from 39 countries to Des Moines, June 5-7.
Presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Expo featured the world's largest pork-specific trade show with more than 400 commercial exhibits from throughout the world.
Expo's three days were filled with seminars offering the latest management insights, free pork barbecue and opportunities for attendees to interact with fellow producers.
In what has become a major youth event, the World Pork Expo Junior National set another record for participation in its shows and other competitions.
"Overall this year, producers were upbeat, the exhibitors were busy, and we had great weather and good crowds," says Randy Spronk, NPPC president and pork producer from Edgerton, MN. "World Pork Expo is a great place to share ideas and talk business with vendors and fellow pork producers. It's a tremendous producer event."
Busy days for trade show exhibitors
At 310,000 square feet, this year's World Pork Expo trade show featured more exhibit space, taking advantage of a new display area in the historic Agriculture Building.
During Expo's three days, attendees viewed the products, services and technologies of more than 400 exhibitors from the United States and other countries.
Expo exhibitors noted the producers' positive attitudes, as well as their search for new technologies and products to fit into their long-term plans.
"Producers attending Expo had a very positive outlook for the future, even though pork production economics are still a challenge," says Graydon Bell, U.S. sales manager, Nedap Livestock Management North America, a Dutch technology and electronic animal-identification company. "Producers today do an excellent job of marketing and working with smaller margins."
He adds that producers were looking for new products and the best options for their future business. "They understand labor, economics, and being good stewards of the animal and the environment. We had good, informed conversations every day of Expo."
Gary Nelson, a U.S. and Canadian distributor for Rotecna, an equipment company based in Spain, echoes that sentiment.
"Producers were optimistic, and were looking down the road for the best alternatives in cost savings and new innovations," Nelson says. "There was a lot of interest in new products. At World Pork Expo you get quality producers asking good questions. We had two great days - probably the best in five years."
A record junior show
From its humble beginnings in 2003 with 120 hogs, the World Pork Expo Junior National now ranks among the premier youth shows in the United States.
This year's edition, hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred, set another record with 1,600 pigs exhibited by 678 juniors from 26 states.
Concluding World Pork Expo was the open show, which involved more than 200 exhibitors and nearly 600 hogs.
The top-selling boar, the reserve champion Yorkshire shown by Kari and Kristin Boyum, and Zach and Katie Loppnow, BOLO Showpigs, Lake City, MN, was purchased by Hi Point Genetics of Chrisman, IL, for $100,000.
A crossbred gilt shown by Cody Wolf, Whitesboro, TX, was the top gilt, selling to Rockin' G Swine, Sentinel, OK, for $17,000.
More 25th-anniversary highlights
The ever-famous Big Grill returned for its 25th consecutive year. Volunteers from the Tama County Pork Producers Association once again manned the Big Grill and served more than 10,000 free pork lunches.
For the second year in a row during Expo, NPPC graciously donated $3,000 in Domino's Pizza gift cards to the Food Bank of Iowa for distribution to area families in need.
Another $1,000 of Domino's Pizza gift cards were donated to Des Moines' Youth Emergency Shelter & Services (YSS), which provides assistance to children, youth and families.
Also popular were nearly two dozen business seminars and PORK Academy seminars, offering the latest insights in production management, market outlook and strategic planning.
A special session on Wednesday presented a panel of swine veterinarians and diagnostic experts to update producers on the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) that has surfaced in U.S. herds since mid-April. Discussion centered on PEDV symptoms and infection rates, as well as prevention and biosecurity protocols.
Looking ahead to next year, NPPC announced dates for the 2014 World Pork Expo - June 4-6, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, IA.
For more information, visit nppc.org.