SMITHFIELD, Va. – Pork prices will continue increasing, said George Richter, president and COO of Smithfield’s Pork Group Smithfield Foods Inc., on Jan. 18 before financial analysts and shareholders at the company’s Investor Day event, according to The Virginian Pilot. Stating American consumers will have “to have to put up with higher prices,” he added he didn’t know how high pork prices may climb.

Smithfield officials iterated the company’s push into packaged meats, restructuring of operations, reduction of debt and increase in marketing.

“We think we have a competitive cost structure in all of the operating segments of this business,” said C. Larry Pope, the company’s president and CEO. “We think we have a very conservative balance sheet today.” Pope predicted the company’s stock price, which has hovered above $20 a share, would shoot up “like a rocket ship.”

Executives pointed to Smithfield’s reach in the US and worldwide. They added it’s No. 1 in U.S. market share for smoked hams and pork and No. 2 for bacon and deli meats. New products include Eckrich Angus Beef Smoked Sausage and Armour Cheese Pepperoni.