The United States is the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of pork and pork products, according to the USDA Economic Research Service’s report on hogs and pork. Country by country, however, we’re the second-largest, because the USDA and other agencies that record such data list the European Union — an agglomeration of 28 nations — as number two.
Number one? As the trade publication National Hog Farmer puts it, “China has probably been the world’s largest pork-producing country for as long as China has been a country.” (In 2018, it accounted for 48% of the world’s pork production.) The Chinese also consume almost two-and-a-half times what the entire EU does and more than five times what we Americans manage to eat.
Per capita pork consumption in the U.S. has grown from 49.9 pounds in 2015 to 52.1 pounds last year. Industry analysts suggest that the ever-increasing popularity of Asian and Latin American cuisines, in which pork is frequently a centerpiece, might be contributing to the rise. The never-ending bacon “trend” probably contributes, too.
The country’s largest pork producer by far is Iowa, responsible for some 14.46 billion pounds in 2019 — roughly three times what the number-two state, Minnesota, Iowa’s northern neighbor, manages. (It may or may not be coincidental that Iowa records the seventh-highest adult obesity rate in the country, according to 24/7 Wall St.’s special report on the healthiest states in America.)
As is the case with beef, tiny Rhode Island — our smallest state — takes last place in production, accounting for a total of only 638,000 pounds of pork in 2019.