There’s no doubt times have changed since 1985, from the leg warmers and hair styles to the economics of the pork industry. Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economists have looked at some of the numbers to show just how far the pork industry has come since the mid-1980s.

For starters, pork demand at the consumer level increased by less than 1 percent in 2001, compared to 1985. However, consider the fact that competing meat supplies at the retail-weight equivalent increased more than 12 percent in 2001 compared to 1985. That means the industry has done well from the demand side, say the Missouri economists.

Live-hog demand in 2001 was about 9 percent greater than it was in 1985. That growth in live-hog demand is due mostly to gains in pork export sales and in the U.S. population. Remember, in 1985 the United States was still a net importer of pork.

Hog prices in 2001 nominal dollars were about $5 per hundredweight less than in 1985, but the industry was almost 30 percent larger in 2001 than in 1985. With the competitive environment in the pork industry, demand growth results in a larger industry, say Grimes and Plain. Producers have reacted to demand growth by increasing production.

For better or worse, these are a few of the changes the pork industry has seen since 1985. Strong product demand and export growth are two positive points as you look into the future. The continuation of both factors looks promising for the immediate future and as long-term trends.