Prepared by:
Dr. Kelly Zering,
Dr. Jon Brandt,
Dr. Fritz Roka,
and Dr. Tomislav Vukina.

Published by: North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Last Electronic Revision: June 1996 (KNS)


Nearly as long as there have been farms in North Carolina, there have been hogs on those farms. North Carolina's present-day pork industry thrives on a network of individuals, farms and businesses that grow and process swine to produce an array of pork products.

Unprecedented growth in North Carolina's pork industry-a 163 percent increase in pounds produced since 1970-has brought a new look to this agricultural mainstay. In 1993, live hog production accounted for nearly 17 percent of North Carolina's agricultural marketings. North Carolina has soared from its 1970 ranking of eleventh among swine producing states to second in 1994.

Yet, production and poundage numbers don't reflect the total economic impact of the industry. Its growth influences employment, investment and revenue as well as potential growth among support industries ranging from accounting to plumbing.

The following graphs, tables, and text take a look at this flourishing industry and its economic impact on North Carolina. They summarize a study conducted by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.


Though North Carolina has long been considered a row- crop producing state, since 1987 livestock and poultry have been responsible for more than 50 percent of the state's agricultural cash receipts. In the last five years, swine's percentage of those receipts has grown from 20 to 28 percent. It is estimated that swine will overtake broilers as the single largest source of livestock and poultry receipts in this year-making it the state's single largest agricultural commodity.

Hog inventories in North Carolina grew by 1.4 million from December 1, 1993 to December 1, 1994.

A large portion of swine production and inventory in- creases in North Carolina and across the nation has occured on modern specialized farms of at least 1,000 pigs. The number of farms keeping pigs has declined, continuing a trend that began before 1960. Most of the decline has involved farms with less than 100 head. In fact, the average number of pigs per farm, among those that have ceased production, was 12.5


The pork industry is composed of two basic parts-production and packing/processing. They share a two-way relationship as success and growth in one sector is, many times, dependent upon success and growth in the other.

The total value of swine production in 1993 was near $1 billion and accounted for 4,322 jobs. This makes up about 13 percent of the state's total agricultural employment figure of 33,845.

But how does that $1 billion affect other facets of North Carolina's economy? Economists call this the multiplier effect. For North Carolina, they estimate that for every $1 of income earned by swine producers, another $.80 of income is generated for other individuals or businesses in the state.

Multipliers can be applied to employment figures also. The employment multiplier for North Carolina hog production is 3.43. For every full-time worker hired by hog producers, two full-time jobs and one part-time job are created in other economic sectors.

The pork packing and processing industry-those businesses that turn the hogs into a wide variety of pork products -- accounted for more than $1.4 billion in sales in 1993. Of the 7,214 full-time employees in North Carolina's meat processing and packing sector, 81 percent or 5,868 were employed to handle swine. With 11 percent of the swine in the United States and only 3 percent of the country's population, North Carolina is an important supplier of fresh and processed pork to markets on the east coast.

The combined economic impact of swine production and meat packing/processing totalled $3.6 billion in state output and $1.17 billion in income in 1993. Almost 25,000 full-time employees can be attributed to swine production and pork packing and processing. These figures include income and employment in wholesale and retail businesses, financial services, and manufacturing and transportation endeavors.


Hog production is projected to reach nearly 15 million head by 1996 and to climb past 20 million by the end of the century. Hog inventory is expected to pass the 10 million mark in 1998.

This growth is being spurred, in part, by increased capabilities in existing packing facilities and the addition of new packing and processing businesses. Recent expansions have increased slaughter capacity to 8 million hogs per year.

Building on a historic foundation and a strong economic network, North Carolina's swine industry is preparing for its inevitable role as the state's number one agricultural commodity.