ANALYSIS - ThePigSite was in Des Moines, Iowa, last week for the 2016 World Pork Expo. Reporting for ThePigSite, Sarah Mikesell spoke to Brett Stuart, President of Global AgriTrends, about the price drivers into 2017.
Mr Stuart explained that exports are the critical driver to watch regarding US hog prices.
"The supply factor of the US hog situation is fairly stable, and we continue to see production ticking higher driven by productivity as well as additional hog expansion. We're kind of going through a soft expansion phase in the US hog sector."
From the demand standpoint, Americans generally eat about 50 pounds of pork per year. At about 48 to 52 pounds, it's a very stable number and probably more stable than supply, he said.
"Looking at the current situation, we definitely have some concerns, but the plug factor in that equation is exports. We produce; we eat it domestically; and we export," he said.
Jim Long, president of Genesus, also spoke about pricing, noting that China is the one to watch.
"The biggest dynamic right now in the world is what's going on in China," Mr Long said.
"The massive liquidation last year to the last year-and-a-half of 11 million sows is driving prices up to a level that's creating profitability there of $160 to $180 per head. It's pulling more pork to China, which is supporting the North American and European markets."
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In other news, an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been reported in South Africa.
Two farms were affected - one in Letsemeng, Free State and one in Mamusa, North West Province. In total, 450 cases were reported.
ASF was also reported on a Ukrainian pig farm close to the border with Romania. The outbreak in Dovzhok resulted in 55 cases.
Outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) have been reported this week in Canada. One case was discovered on a finisher farm in Oxford county, Ontario and the other in a sow barn in southeastern Manitoba.