New York Times  Feb 25  Comment 
The dispute over the Smithfield Market project underscores broader issues, including the soaring cost of London real estate, the resulting inequality and the challenge of upgrading the infrastructure of culture-rich cities.     
guardian.co.uk  Feb 23  Comment 
A controversial plan to turn one of London's finest Victorian markets into a £160m office and retail complex is the subject of a current public inquiry and the finely balanced rival claims of heritage and development Here's what the battle...
CNNMoney.com  Feb 13  Comment 
If there's a silver lining to the snow storms that have walloped the nation, businesses that make weather gear have found it.
Times Online  Feb 13  Comment 
It’s 13 years since I last attended a “landmark” planning inquiry. I had forgotten what great theatre they can be....
Times Online  Feb 10  Comment 
The fight over Smithfield market in Central London will begin tomorrow with the gloves off and the combatants snarling at...
Financial Times  Feb 10  Comment 
Public inquiry opens into Henderson’s plan to restore derelict Victorian general market building, amid objections by conservation groups
guardian.co.uk  Feb 7  Comment 
Save Britain's Heritage calls McAslan plan for office and shops 'worst mutilation of a major Victorian building in 30 years' A small boy grapples with a dolphin above the entrance to Smithfield General Market in the City of London, blissfully...
TheStreet.com  Jan 22  Comment 
BEIJING (TheStreet) -- This week's decision by Smithfield Food's parent Shuanghui International to recast its identity with a new, more innocuous name -- WH Group -- has set the stage for what could be an initial public offering by the Chinese...
Times Online  Jan 19  Comment 
The fate of London’s historic Smithfield Market is looking more precarious after a report claimed that one proposal could make...


Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD) is the world's largest hog producer and slaughterhouse, also known as a pork processor. Approximately half of Smithfield's profits come from processed meats sold under one of Smithfield Foods' private brand names, a percentage that the firm hopes to increase in the future. These products are sold at higher margins, even in times of rising commodity prices - whereas fresh meat is sold to butchers, who then mark up the product to earn a profit. Processing the meat itself allows the company to earn maximum profit from each sale and to pass a higher percentage of input costs onto consumers. The company earned $11.2 billion in revenue but incurred a net loss of $101 million in 2010.[1]

By vertically integrating its hog production and processed pork segments, Smithfield is insulated from the hog commodity market. It is not, however, insulated from feedstuff commodity prices, like grain, since 60-65% of the cost of raising hogs is feedstock prices. Corn makes up 85% of a pig's diet, and demand for corn, spurred by ethanol production as well as an expanding global population, has led corn prices to rise nearly 60% since 2007. Increased commodities prices depress margins as Smithfield Foods is unable to completely pass on feed prices to consumers.

Company Overview

Smithfield Foods operates in four segments: pork (its largest segment), international, hog production, and other (turkey production):[2]


The pork segment consists of fresh pork and packaged meat. Smithfield is shifting strategy towards its packaged meat business, due to the higher margins of private labels. Meat is sold under Smithfield, Farmland, John Morrell, Gwaltney, Great, Cumberland Gap, Armour, Eckrich, Margherita, LunchMakers, and Dinner Bell, among others. The pork segment procures about 52% of hogs from the hog production segment and the rest from the hog spot market.

Hog Production

The hog production segment consists of raising and selling hogs. It has approximately 900,000 sows producing 14 million market hogs annually, making it the largest producer of hogs in the world. By integrating this segment with the processed pork segment, Smithfield Foods hopes to use economies of scale to decrease the hog cost for each.


The international segment consists of several international meat processing operations. Smithfield has controlling interests in processing plants in Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom, and smaller interests in plants in Western Europe, Mexico, and China.


The other segment consists of turkey production relating to the 49% stake that Smithfield Foods owns in the Butterball company.

Business Growth

FY 2010 (ended May 2, 2010)[1]

  • Net sales fell 10% to $11.2 billion. The company attributes the decline to lower sales volume created by the sluggish economy.
  • The company incurred a net loss of $101 million, an improvement over the net loss of $198 million in the previous year.

Trends and Forces

  • Rising Feedstuff Prices Cut Smithfield Foods' Margins as Corn Is 85% of a Pig's Diet: Smithfield Foods is heavily dependent on favorable pricing of feedstuff, such as corn prices and soybeans, as well as hog and cattle prices. Corn prices have risen sharply since the beginning of 2007, as ethanol producers have increased their demand for the commodity (rising oil prices, in turn, have increased demand for ethanol). Smithfield Foods engages in various hedging activities to "lock in" to current prices and protect itself from price increases. It does this by buying forward grain contracts at current prices. This means the company is protected in the case of raising prices, but is also liable in the case of falling prices because it will continue to pay the contracted rate. Any long-term, significant increase in feedstuff prices has the potential to seriously depress margins and reduce profitability. Though hog prices have steadily declined, Smithfield Foods is insulated from price increases by supplying its processed pork segment with lower priced hogs from its hog production segment.
  • Smithfield Foods Has Significant Exposure to Several Customers: Smithfield's top ten customers, including McDonald's (MCD) , Subway, and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), represented 26% of net sales. However, Smithfield does not have long-term sales agreements with any customers and does not, therefore, have a guaranteed source of revenue. The loss of one of these top customers would have a significant impact on Smithfield's balance sheet.
  • Smithfield's Transition towards Value-Added Meats Will Increase Margins: Smithfield Foods is looking to increase revenue from processed meats (currently just over half of revenues). These products carry a higher margin than fresh pork, because they are sold one step closer to the consumer on the supply chain - to stores, rather than to butchers who then mark up the meat once again before selling to stores. Rising commodity prices factor into the price that consumers must pay for their pork, but these input costs cannot be passed on in their entirety. By eliminating an extra step in the sales process, Smithfield can pass a higher percentage of production costs onto the consumer as well.


Smithfield Foods is currently the world leader in hog production and has 25% of the market share in United States pork.


  1. 1.0 1.1 SFD 2010 10-K "Selected Financial Data" pg. 28
  2. SFD 2010 10K "Description of Segments" pg. 5-8
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