US Breeding Herd Tumbles (April 2009)

By Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePigSite. Our snapshot of the ongoing global pig industry trends as reported in April 2009 Whole Hog Brief. To read the full detailed analysis including all the commentary and graphical data, subscribe to the publication.
calendar icon 10 April 2009
clock icon 5 minute read

The total stock of hogs, pigs and breeding herd in the US has dropped by three per cent from March 2008 according to the latest US Hogs and Pigs Census.

The Whole Hog reports that the inventory of 65.4 million is also down by two per cent on the previous quarter.

The breeding herd at 6.01 million is three per cent down on March 2008 and one per cent down on the last quarter of 2008.

However, the Whole Hog also shows that US pork exports of cuts and variety meats rose again in January this year to 149,383 tonnes - a rise of 1.7 per cent on December last year and 6.7 per cent up on the same month the previous year.

At the same time, US pig meat imports fell by 7.3 per cent on December to 31,169 tonnes.

Exports of Canadian pork are also still rising, with total shipments in January reaching 83,542 tonne, 3.4 per cent up on January 2008.

The Whole Hog says that the rise in mainly due to an in crease in exports to Taiwan, Australia and Japan.

Chinese Pig Meat Production

The Whole Hog reports that Chinese pig meat production is expected to rise by four per cent in 2009, to reach 48.7 million tonnes.

However, in reporting the figures from the USDA FAS, it says that the rise in production is expected to be slower than last year when it rose at a rate of eight per cent.

The rise has been helped by subsidies following the blue ear disease outbreak in 2007, which helped in the increased imports of breeding sows.

However, while production is increasing at four per cent, consumption is expected to rise by five per cent to 48.8 million tonnes.

Global Pig Prices on the Edge

The Whole Hog's monitor of global pig prices shows that they are just about holding up.

It says that they are rising and falling without ever achieving previous peaks.

The main prop to global pig prices is the Canadian price, but this is not going to be sufficient to sustain the cycle's peak.

"We are definitely on the edge," the Whole Hog says.

"The market is unclear and yet the message is becoming clear. We are poised for a turn in the price cycle."

The Rise and Fall of Hungary's Pig Sector

The latest figures from the Hungarian Agriculture Ministry shows that the total number of pigs in the national herd was 3.38 million with a breeding herd of 320,000.

This is a fall from 9.368 million in 1974, which at the time was enough to cover national needs and some exports to the then Soviet Union, the Whole Hog reports.

However, it predicts that the pig sector in Hungary is threatened with further contraction, with production forecast to fall by a further 10 per cent this year.

EU Prices Don't Look Like a Single Market

EU average pig producer prices for March are 1.9 per cent up on February but down by 4.1 per cent year on year, at €137.03 per 100 kg.

However, the Whole Hog shows that in Spain Germany prices were way above the average at €145.06 and €140.76 respectively, while the French prices were below the average at €131.80.

The Whole Hog said that Easter was expected to see a brisk demand for pig meat and prices will stabilise.

Japanese Imports Rise

The latest figures from Japan show a rise in imports of pork by eight per cent between November and December last year and seven per cent year on year.

Imports from the US rose by 4.3 per cent and from Canada they were up by 25.3 per cent month on month.

In South Korea, imports reached 21,381 tonnes in January - a 1.9 per cent rise on December, but 33.5 per cent down on January 2008.

Imports from South Korea's leading shipper, the US, were down by 3.1 per cent the Whole Hog reports.

The latest figures from Australia show that exports in December last year slipped to 2,935 tonnes, down by 21.1 per cent.

At the same time, the Whole Hog reports that total pig meat imports to Australia increased by 10.9 per cent compared to December 2007.

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