Pork demand extends to hogs not yet born
The backlog of market ready hogs resulting from the month-long COVID related Smithfield packing plant closure in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been whittled down, but a South Dakota pork industry leader says there are long waits for local processors. The Smithfield plant is operating at or above its pre-COVID capacity, according to Glenn Muller, executive director of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council, but local locker plants will be busy for a while.
“Right now our locker plants are booked out, some as far as a year-and-a-half,” Muller told Brownfield Ag News. “Right now we have hogs scheduled to be harvested that have not even been born yet.”
The meat demand spike that happened right after the coronavirus outbreak also resulted in a consumer run on longer term meat storage, said Muller.
“There was a point in time where you could barely find, if you could find a freezer for sale,” said Muller. “A lot of consumers went to buying whole hogs, taking them to a locker plant, or in some cases processing them themselves in their back yards or whatever.”
The difference in getting a whole hog is that the buyer has a lot of cuts they might not be accustomed to purchasing when choosing a few packages at the grocery store, he said.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they proceed down the road,” said Muller, “if they continue to buy whole hogs and utilize that practice, or if they go back to the grocery store.”
Although supplies vary regionally, Muller, who is based in Sioux Falls, calls local grocery store meat counters “back to normal.”