Pig outlook: US pork production projections, Prop 12, Canadian "super pigs", China's sow herd

Jim Wyckoff reports lean hog futures showing upside price potential
calendar icon 24 February 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

Lean hog futures price action the past week still suggests a market bottom is in place and that prices can continue to trend sideways to higher in the coming weeks. The latest CME lean hog index was up 77 cents--the biggest daily gain during the current rally from the January low. It’s likely the US cash hog and wholesale pork markets will continue to rise in the coming weeks and months. The trend will likely remain up despite the present sizeable premiums built into the spring and summer lean hog futures contracts. It’s likely the comparatively low US pork prices versus beef will prompt stronger grocer interest in featuring pork this spring.

USDA annual Ag Outlook conference projections on U.S. pork production

Hogs: U.S. pork production is projected at 27.4 billion lbs., up 2% from last year. Exports are expected to inch up 0.2% from last year to 3.65 billion pounds. Cash price: $66.50, down $4.71 from last year.

USDA on Mexico livestock and products, semi-annual report

In 2023, Mexico’s 2023 pork production is forecast to increase by 4.6 percent due to continued private sector investment. While pork imports are forecast 2.7 percent lower, Mexico is expected to maintain a strong volume of imports to satisfy domestic demand. Mexico’s beef production is forecast to slightly increase, but faces slower consumption growth on a year-to-year basis as food inflation soars. As herd numbers increase, overall cattle slaughter is expected to rise. Carcass weights are expected to marginally decrease in 2023 and are offset by larger slaughter numbers of slightly younger animals. 

US Supreme Court may announce a decision soon on the controversial Proposition 12 case

That case deals with California trying to dictate how hogs are raised, sources inform. The California law being challenged bans the sale of pork within the state unless pregnant pigs are allowed at least 24 square feet of space and the ability to stand up and turn around in their pens. The measure was approved with more 68% of the vote as part of a 2018 ballot initiative known as Proposition 12. The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, which sued in 2019, say the measure violates the so-called dormant commerce clause, a doctrine that says the U.S. Constitution limits the power of states to regulate commerce outside their borders without congressional authorization.

US may be facing a new problem: Canadian “super pigs”

Crossbred and highly intelligent pigs are set to come into the U.S. by way of its northern neighbor. The pigs are “highly elusive,” as they can survive the cold by tunneling beneath the snow. The United States estimates that wild pigs already cause $1.5 billion in damage each year already; consider what more the super pigs can do.

China to maintain hog breeding herd size at reasonable size

China will keep the country’s breeding sow herd at a reasonable level of around 41 million, the country’s ag ministry said.

China to buy pork for state reserves

The national average of pork prices against grain prices has fallen below the warning level of 5 to 1. As a result, China plans to buy 20,000 MT of pork for state reserves. This will be the first pork stockpiling this year. China’s state planner also announced it will continue to strengthen hog production capacity and price control and stabilize hog market operations.

The next week’s likely high-low price trading ranges:

April lean hog futures--$85.00 to $90.00 and with a sideways-higher bias

May soybean meal futures--$470.00 to $490.00, and with a sideways-higher bias

May corn futures--$6.67 1/2 to $6.86 and a sideways bias

Latest analytical daily charts lean hog, soybean meal and corn futures

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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