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PED Virus Worries U.S. Hog Industry

PED virus

Most cattlemen probably have never heard of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED). However, if you’re in the hog industry, you definitely are aware of this hog disease that could be a major industry changer, if it becomes widespread.

There is no cure for this strain of swine virus that is extremely deadly to young pigs. PED hit the Chinese hog industry in 2010, and ended up costing that industry a million young pigs before it was brought under control.

PED’s presence now has been reported in swine herds in 16 states in the U.S., and has been confirmed in Iowa and North Carolina, the nation’s top two hog-producing states, respectively. The virus doesn’t affect humans or present a threat to the meat products, and the summer heat seems to slow down the virus, which should aid in control. However, significant concern remains that if the virus becomes widespread, it could ultimately impact U.S. hog slaughter numbers by decimating the number of pigs reaching weaning age. On the plus side, the U.S. hog industry is very adept at biosecurity, which analysts hope will help minimize the effects.


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However, PED remains a grave concern. Its timing is problematic for the U.S. pork industry, as it is engaged in an aggressive plan to wrest market share from beef. If the virus was to become widespread, it could reduce hog numbers and mitigate the price advantage that the hog industry was planning on leveraging in its campaign to capture market share from the beef sector.

From a cattle industry standpoint, the most disturbing part of the pork industry’s marketing strategy is that it thinks it can win favor on what has traditionally been beef’s strength. The pork industry not only believes it can buy market share based on price, in a fashion similar to what the poultry industry did, but it also believes it can win on taste, convenience, and overall eating experience. The bottom line is that the pork industry plans on attacking the value proposition, and it plans on using the beef industry’s nomenclature to do it.


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