In a nod to global markets, Tyson Foods is telling suppliers that beginning in February, it will not accept meat from hogs that have been administered a popular feed additive.
At issue is ractopamine, a feed ingredient that helps hogs grow faster. Ractopamine is approved for hog feed in the United States and in other major pork-consuming nations like Japan. However, its use is banned in 160 other nations, including the European Union and China.
The international market is becoming increasingly important to Tyson and other pork producers because of African swine fever, an incurable animal disease that has killed more than 200 million Chinese hogs and raised global pork prices by an estimated 5%. The disease, which is not currently active in the U.S., has heightened demand for American pork overseas, especially in China.
While the Chinese market has been disrupted by trade wars, Tyson, the largest American-owned pork processor, wants to be ready to meet the higher demand. Tyson had been contracting with farmers for ractopamine-free hogs and processing them in segregated conditions, but the company determined that this was no longer sufficient.
“We believe the move to prohibit ractopamine use will allow Tyson Fresh Meats and the farmers who supply us to compete more effectively for export opportunities in even more countries,” Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats, said in a statement.