This year has certainly been an interesting year to be in the business of producing pork. Even though the number of pigs and pounds of pork produced in 2017 were record highs for the U.S., expansion continued because margins were good. While there are many reasons for this, the bottom line is that we are the global leaders in producing safe, wholesome pork and we do it more efficiently than any other country. The work that we do on the Animal Science Committee continues to focus on making improvements in production efficiency.
This year saw the completion of 10 research projects focused on improving feed efficiency or mitigating the impact of seasonality. It is likely that the Animal Science Committee will always work in the area of improving feed efficiency because, depending on the price of ingredients, feed makes up between 65 and 70% of the cost of production. Similarly, high temperatures result in loss of productivity across all phases of production for five months of the year. Because of the large impact, even small improvements in these areas results in large impact industry-wide.