As the market for organic products continues to increase, some pork producers might want to consider a change to that type of production. Research results from the Organic Trade Association show sales of United States organic products, including pork, grew more than 17 percent from 2007 to 2008, and the consumer demand is expected to continue despite the current economic downturn.

Iowa State University Animal Scientist Mark Honeyman says consumer desires can lead to increased demand for organic pork products.

“Many U.S. consumers of pork are interested in issues concerning the environment, food safety, pig welfare and pig farm ownership and structure,” he notes. “These consumers may be willing to pay more for pork from farmers who also are concerned about these issues.”

Consumers typically pay more for organic pork, primarily because organic pork costs more to produce. This increased price tag is at least partially due to lower feed efficiency and higher feed costs in organic production, Honeyman says. As of early May, the price of organic corn is around $8 per bushel, compared with the price of traditional corn at around $3.50 per bushel.

Both Honeyman and Iowa State Agricultural Economist James Kliebenstein say there are numerous financial benefits to organic pork production, including a market segment with higher value pork that continues to grow. Socially, organic producers could have the opportunity to get to know their consumers, and may be more able to use skills and labor of more family members in the operation.

However, the change to organic production is not without its liabilities. Kliebenstein adds some production factors can negatively affect an organic producer’s financial bottom line. “The pigs per litter and litters per sow per year figures are lower, and along with a generally lower productivity, this adds to the cost of organic pork production,” he says.

For more, click here.