May 14 Smithfield Foods Inc, the world's
largest pork producer, said on Tuesday it will soon raise half
of its hogs on feed that does not contain the additive
ractopamine, a lean muscle promoting drug that has been banned
in China and Russia.
Two Smithfield plants, which handle 43,000 hogs a day or
about 10 percent of the U.S. industry, already are
ractopamine-free, Chief Executive Larry Pope said at the BMO
Capital Markets Farm to Market Conference in New York.
On June 1, the company will convert a third plant to be
ractopamine free. When that happens "over 50 percent of our
operations will have no ractopamine as part of their feed
rations," Pope said.
China, the world's largest pork consumer and the third
largest market for U.S. pork with sales of over $800 million
last year, wants pork from the United States to be verified by a
third party from March 1 to be free of ractopamine, an additive
that promotes lean muscle growth.
Russia, which imported $550 million worth of U.S. beef, pork
and turkey last year, has banned imports of meat from the United
States due to the presence of the food additive.
Smithfield, which was not immediately available for
additional comment, in February said it was in the final stages
of converting its plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, the world's
largest pork-processing facility, to be ready to meet China's
new requirement before the March 1 deadline.
Shares of Smithfield closed up 87 cents, or 3.36 percent, on
Tuesday at $26.80 at the New York Stock Exchange