US Market Hogs Up, Breeding Growth Slows (Apr 08)

By Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePigSite. Our snapshot of the ongoing global pig industry trends as reported in April 2008 Whole Hog Brief. To read the full detailed analysis including all the commentary and graphical data, subscribe to the publication.
calendar icon 7 April 2008
clock icon 6 minute read

US Market Hogs Up

The latest USDA census figures show that the US breeding pig herd has risen by 0.5 per cent over the last year and the number of hogs is seven per cent up at 59.8 million head.

This according to The Whole Hog is being attributed to the success of the new circovirus vaccine, which has increase the survival rate in pig litters.

The December to February slaughter numbers were up to 9.21 million compared to 9.09 last year. The Whole Hog says that the planned reduction in farrowing and a slight fall in the breeding herd can be attributed to higher feed and lower hog prices.

New Record for US Exports

While the figures show that the US breeding herd has risen, trade figures report a record for exports during January.

Exports of pork cuts and variety meats reach 140,063 tonnes - 14.9 per cent higher than December and 29.8 per cent higher than January a year ago.

The Whole Hog shows that the main rise was in exports to Japan, which went up by 11.7 per cent compared to December. Japan took the greatest share of US exports with 23.2 per cent. Exports to Mexico rose by 6.5 per cent on December but the highest percentage rise was to China, where exports rose by 241.3 per cent on December and 215.5 per cent year on year - standing at 20,381 tonnes.

Mixed Year Ahead for China

Pork production in China is set to recover this year, according to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. However the rise in production is set to be just one per cent at 42 million tonnes.

The industry is also seeing a change in demographics as the industry reports between 50-60 per cent of backyard operations with 50 or less pigs leaving production and larger commercial operations increasing by 20 per cent.

The Whole Hog reports that the Chinese pig herd had been decimated by snow storms, killing 4.09 million head of pigs and affecting 1,200 swine breeding farms.

Chinese production has also been hit by blue ear disease in b 2006 and 2007.

The industry is also concerned about a lack of corn because of the weather, which will also force feed prices up.

Global Price Downturn Continues

The world price for pork is at its lowest since May 2004, according to The Whole Hog's Global Price Index.

However, The Whole Hog says that the worldwide industry is starting to take positive action to boost prices. Canada is cutting the breeding herd backed by government funds and there are indications that the US industry is lining up production more closely to demand.

Although Europe's producers have had a positive March, The Whole Hog says that feed prices are expected to remain high.

The hope for the EU industry is that strong demand from pork importers will ease the pain of domestic over-production.

EU Extends Aid

The industry across the EU is facing dramatic rises in feed prices and figures produced by the British Pig Executive show that sow feed has risen by 31.9 per cent in Germany and 81.7 per cent in the UK between 2006 and January this year. Most countries have seen rises of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent.

In Spain, weaner feed has risen by 13.2 per cent and in Denmark it has gone up by 51.7 per cent.

He EU reaction, according to the reports in The Whole Hog has been to increase Private Storage Aid for a maximum of three months.

The Whole Hog also reports that the Irish agriculture minister Mary Coughlan has called for a strong pig meat export refund programme across Europe.

Easter Boost for Producers

The early Easter has given a boost to pig producers with rising prices as the demand for lag cuts in particular rose.

The biggest winners, according to The Whole Hog, have been Germany and the Netherlands although many other EU countries saw a seasonal strong upswing in prices.

Sporting events later in the year are hoped to boost prices again, The Whole Hog says.

Herd Cull Starts in Canada

Statistics from Canada show that the industry exported more pork in January this year than in January 2007.

Live pig exports across the border to the US also rose, with total live exports up by 26 per cent.

The Cull Breeding Swine Program is expected to cut the herd by 10 per cent - about 150,000 animals. Producers are being offered C$225 per farrowed sow or boar slaughtered under the programme.

The Whole Hog says that the scheme which requires producers to empty at least one barn and keep it empty for three years, is being welcomed by the Canadian Pork Council.

Australian Exports Slide

The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that exports of pig meat are continuing to fall. The latest figures to October last year show an 8.7 per cent fall year on year, with Singapore, Japan and New Zealand being the main destinations.

The Whole Hog also reports that Japan imported more pork in December last year than in the same month in 2006.

Imports were 6.7 per cent higher although imports from Denmark dropped by 11.2 per cent compared to December 2006. However, imports from Canada rose by more than 10 per cent.

In January, South Korea imported a record amount of pork, 32,148 tonnes - a rise of 17.8 per cent on the previous month.

April 2008

Whole Hog Brief, April 2008


  • US market hogs up, breeding hog growth slows
  • FAS sees mixed year ahead for China
  • Gobal price downturn continues
  • Fedd price hikes cause EU Aid extension
  • Easter boost for EU producers' pig prices
  • Brighter start for Cnadian producers as sow herd cull scheme details announced
  • US pork exports start year with new record
  • Australian pigmeat export slide continues
  • Japan ends 2007 with 5% more imported pork
  • South Korean starts 2008 with record imports
  • Company News
  • Whole Hog Price Monitor - 31 March 2008

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