Hormel Foods Corp is joining JBS and Tyson Foods Inc by eliminating ractopamine from its supply chain, the company said on Tuesday.
Hormel will not accept any hogs that have been fed or exposed to ractopamine after April 1, Reuters reports.
Although ractopamine is an FDA-approved and safe feed ingredient that helps increase the amount of lean meat in hogs, some countries such as China prohibit the import of pork from hogs that have been fed the product. The European Union also bans ractopamine.
The company is joining rivals trying to increase meat sales to Chinese buyers facing a pork shortage. Last October, Tyson Foods Inc and JBS USA said they would remove the drug from their supply chains.
China is expected to buy more U.S. pork after agreeing to significantly increase imports of American farm goods as part of an interim trade deal reached last month with Washington, Reuters reports. Beijing said it will grant exemptions on retaliatory tariffs imposed against 696 U.S. goods, including pork.
As part of the trade deal, China agreed to work with U.S. experts to “conduct a risk assessment for ractopamine in cattle and swine as soon as possible without undue delay,” according to the agreement. The countries are intending to establish a joint working group to discuss the steps to be taken based on the assessment results.
Last week, Chinese pork prices neared record-highs set in 2019. The coronavirus epidemic has been disrupting the transportation of pigs and the restart of slaughtering plants, squeezing already tight supplies.
Hormel sells ham, pork tenderloin and other meat products, but it does not slaughter hogs itself. Reuters reports that the company partners with third-party suppliers that process the animals for Hormel’s raw materials.
More from Farm Journal's PORK: