#16-115

Progress

Category

Date Full Report Received

11/01/2017

Date Abstract Report Received

11/01/2017

Investigation

Institution:
Primary Investigator:

The pork supply chain audit surveyed pork processing companies to identify factors that influence quality within their systems. This particular audit focused on the slaughter and fabrication segment of the industry. All federally inspected major pork packers were provided the opportunity to participate. Unlike previous audits, companies were reluctant to share information making summarization of data difficult. Overall, live and carcass weights have increased since the 2003 supply chain audit. In 2016, live weights were 134.4 kg and HCW was 115.3 kg. This represents a 15.3% increase in the last 13 years. Likewise, hams, loins, and Boston butts also increased. Belly weights remained the same. Pork quality is still determined at the packer level using the same historical tools as reported in the 2003 audit. Packers continue to monitor loin muscle pH and evaluate color using visual and instrumental tools. Pale, soft, and exudative pork was among the issues cited in the 2003 supply chain audit that created challenges with consumer acceptability. In 2003, 15.5% of all loins were identified as PSE. Likewise, 1.9% were identified as DFD. Currently, 1.3% of loins are identified as being PSE and 1.3% are identified as DFD. Value from organ meats are captured by various companies and the majority of those are exported. However, most participants in the audit were reluctant to disclose what percentage of by-products were sold nor were they willing to provide information on what percentage were marketed domestically or internationally. Likewise, belly thickness and fat quality were identified in both the 1992 audit and the 2003 audit as challenges to the pork industry. Even though questions were asked about fat quality monitoring programs were posed, companies were hesitant to provide any information regarding those monitoring procedures. Overall, pigs are heavier than they were in 2003, but it appears packers are considerably less willing to share information about their system. This made comparisons among past and present quality audits very difficult.