China's Shuanghui to buy Leading Pork Producer Smithfield


06 June, 2013

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report in Special English.

The Chinese meat processing company Shuanghui International is planning to buy the American company Smithfield Ham, it would be the biggest purchase of an American company by a Chinese buyer.

Ham and pork are the meat of pigs. Virginia ham is famous around the world and Smithfield Virginia calls itself the ham capital of the world. Larry Santure is the sales manager for Smithfield hams.

"Marco Polo actually brought the basis of curing the Virginia ham to Italy from China, and they thought about how they could make the ham in Italy, and this turned out to be the prosciutto. The settlers brought the formula for making prosciutto with them to the United States."

Native Americans then taught those early European immigrants how to cure the meat.

"The Indians had devices and methods of taking sea water and dehydrating it and producing salt, which is critical to making cured hams."

The salt is rubbed all over the fresh meat where stays for 50 days, then it is salted one more time before it is heated and smoked.

Virginia Wade manages a store that sells Smithfield ham.

"We have the genuine Smithfield ham which is aged a minimum of six months, this is very similar to the Chinese ham.

But before Smithfield ham can be made and sold by the Chinese, the purchase must be approved by the American government and by people who own stock in Smithfield Ham. There have been concerns in the past about Chinese companies doing business in the United States.

However, Gary Hofbaure expects the American Committee on Foreign Investment to approve this purchase. He is with the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.

"Are that committee has a mandate to examine takeovers on national security grounds. And it is hard to think of a product which is fruther for national security than pork."

Mr Hofbaure believes the Chinese company is buying the world's good opinion of Smithfield Ham, especially, the quality and safty of its products.

"And that's two big issues in China, so I think this company hopes by taking over to introduce the Smithfield technology in China, and turn out, you know, a better pork product made from Chinese pigs. In China, better select condition, better discipline and so far, fly down a line, there is a lot of high technology there, believe it or not. And so they are going to get something that way, in fact to get a lot in that way, I think commercially that's a big pay-off."

He also expects those Chinese pork products to be sold in China, not in the United States. We will continue to follow this story next week on the program As It Is.

And that's the Economics Report from Learning English, I'm Karen Leggett.