Canadian Pig Production Slumps (Mar 08)

By Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePigSite. Our snapshot of the ongoing global pig industry trends as reported in March 2008 Whole Hog Brief. To read the full detailed analysis including all the commentary and graphical data, subscribe to the publication.
calendar icon 1 March 2008
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Canadian Herd Reducing

The Canadian pig breeding herd is continuing to decline, according to figures from Statistics Canada. Reporting the breeding herd figures from 1 January 2008, The Whole Hog said the fall is taking place despite strong international demand for Canadian hogs.

Sow and bred gilt numbers on farm fell by 1.9 per cent for the year to 1 January. Breeding boar numbers fell more steeply by 3.3 per cent to 32,200.

On-farm hog numbers fell by 2.5 per cent since October last year to 14.01 million - a fall of six per cent year on year.

US and UK Cut Herd

While the Canadian pig herd was falling, in the US Smithfield Foods has announced it will be cutting its sow numbers by up to five per cent. This according to The Whole Hog will result in a drop in production of 800,000 to 1 million hogs.

The president and CEO of Smithfield C. Larry Pope said that the US herd needed to drop by up to six per cent to help boost prices and he warned that the Canadian herd could drop by up to 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, the UK breeding herd is expected to fall by between 380,000 and 400,000 by the end of this year, with the UK clean pig slaughter numbers dropping from 9.27 million last year to 9.07 million this year. UK production costs have risen by 41 per cent since 2006.

The March edition of The Whole Hog asks how long can the breeding herd go before the ancillary industries that support pig production in the UK can themselves no longer survive?

Cost of Production

The cost of pig production in Europe is considerably higher than in Brazil, Canada or the US.

The Whole Hog, reporting on the UK Meat and Livestock Commission's annual report on production costs shows that the cost of producing pig meat in nine major EU countries was 97p per kilo compared to 62p in Brazil and Canada and 67p in the US.

The report shows how feed costs have risen across the board rising by 58 per cent in October/November last year compared to a year ago.

In the UK however, The Whole Hog shows that feed costs had risen by 64 per cent and production costs had risen from 108p per kilo to 142p.

In Europe, in general, The Whole Hog says that there is "a note of cautious optimism" and it says that many major pig producers are enjoying modest increases in prices, with Germany leading the way followed by France and the Netherlands in Western Europe.

The Whole Hog Price Monitor shows that the highest producer price rises for pig meat were in Canada where they went up by 4.4 per cent, In Europe the Netherlands and Germany closely followed by Hungary led the way with rises between 3.7 and 3.1 per cent. The Czech Republic, Ireland and Poland were the only EU countries to show a price fall.


Statistics Canada also shows that exports have fallen by four per cent in 2007 compared to 2006, although they were boosted by live exports to the US. Total live exports were up by 12.4 per cent with gilt and sow exports up by 17.3 per cent and feeder pigs up by 10.1 per cent.

The Whole Hog also reports that US exports of pork cuts and variety meats fell from November by 9.8 per cent to 121,939 tonnes. Fresh chilled pork exports were down by five per cent to 38,451 tonnes and frozen pork exports were down by 15.2 per cent to 55.911 tonnes.

Asia Pacific

Pig slaughterings in Australia rose by 10.2 per cent year on year in October 2007 reaching 454,000 pigs and pig meat production was also up by 10.2 per cent reaching 32,700 tonnes. However, the statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that sow slaughtering rose by 61.8 per cent in October last year compared to the previous year. This, The Whole Hog says, shows that a large number of producers are slaughtering out their breeding herds in the face of stiff competition from imports.

The Japanese pork imports for November were static compared to the October figures, although they should a small 1.3 per cent decline year on year. Pork imports from the US rose in Japan most significantly by five per cent to 23,789 tonnes, while imports from Canada dropped by 10.4 per cent between October and November last year. The year-to-date imports to Japan, however, were up by 4.7 per cent to 696,066 tonnes.

Imports to South Korea fell by 7.6 per cent in December compared to the previous month. Overall during 2007 Korea's pork imports reached 338,686 tonnes up by 8.8 per cent on 2006.

March 2008

Whole Hog Brief, March 2008


  • Canadian pig production slumps
  • Input costs keep Europe's cost of production high
  • Structural change hits North America - but is it enough?
  • More falls forecast for UK breeding herd
  • Europe's modest price recovery continues
  • Canadian 2007 exports: pigs soar, pork falls
  • US pork exports end year on record high
  • Australian sow slaughter soars as imports rise
  • Japanese pork imports dip in November
  • South Korean pork imports soar, again
  • Company News
  • Whole Hog Price Monitor - 3 March 2008

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