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Hormel eliminates ractopamine from meat supply

Hormel Foods will become the latest U.S. company to eliminate ractopamine from its supply chain when its new policy goes into effect on April 1.

AUSTIN, MINNESOTA – JUNE 21, 2017: A display of Spam Cans at the
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Joins Tyson, JBS, Smithfield in hopes to expand export opportunities

Hormel Foods, maker of Spam and many other food products, will become the latest U.S. company to eliminate ractopamine from its supply chain when its new policy goes into effect on April 1.

In an emailed statement, a Hormel spokesperson said the decision was made to meet international demand.

“We have informed our network of independent farms and suppliers that we will no longer be accepting any supply that have been fed or exposed to ractopamine as of April 1, 2020,” the statement said. “We have been actively monitoring the changing global market dynamics for several years and believe this decision will further position us to meet growing international demand.”

Ractopamine is approved for use in pigs and beef cattle in the U.S., but is banned in many international markets, including China and the EU. The drug increases animals’ weight gain and feed efficiency, and they end up using 10-20% less feed or water to reach final weight gain.

Other pork suppliers have done the same

In 2019, Tyson Fresh Meats and JBS USA said they would stop using the growth drug in its pig diets to expand export opportunities to China. U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods, which is owned by China-based WH Group, also does not use ractopamine in pigs raised on its company-owned and contract farms. Tyson, JBS and Smithfield are the three largest pork producers in the U.S.

Banning use of the drug in U.S.-raised hogs opens up export opportunities to China, which has seen dwindling supply as African swine fever (ASF) depletes the country’s pig herd.

JBS USA pork has made the decision to eliminate ractopamine from its supply chain to maximize export opportunities,” a company spokesman said at the time of the company’s announcement. “The company previously removed ractopamine from its internal live pork production systems in August 2018” and will now prohibit its use in hogs produced by other farmers that sell to JBS.

Tyson also cited export opportunities in its announcement.

“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,” said Steve Stouffer, president, Tyson Fresh Meats, in a press release in October.

Recently, state and county fairs in the U.S. have begun banning the use of ractopamine in pigs sold at their shows because those pigs could end up in international markets where the drug is banned.

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