US Pork Outlook – December 2011

15 December 2011, at 12:00am

Strong export growth is expected to continue through the fourth quarter, before tailing off in 2012, according to the latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook from the USDA's Economic Research Service.


Pork/Hogs: October pork exports were more than 42 per cent greater than a year ago, propelled primarily by very strong Asian demand, i.e. Japan, China and South Korea. Strong export growth is expected to continue through the fourth quarter, before tailing off in 2012. Total US pork exports are expected to be 5.1 billion pounds, both this year, and in 2012.

Beef/Cattle: Disproportionally large cow slaughter has kept average dressed weights lower during most of 2011 than if steers had constituted half or more of beef slaughter, as they typically do. Packer margins and high feed and feeder cattle prices are exerting downward pressure on fed cattle prices.

Beef/Cattle Trade: US beef exports are expected to increase by 21 per cent in 2011. Although US domestic beef supplies will be five per cent lower in 2012, exports should remain strong and stay about even with levels exported this year. As tight global beef supplies will continue into next year, US beef imports are expected to increase only moderately into 2012.

Poultry: Sharply lower broiler chick placements and slower growth in bird weights have lowered the fourth-quarter 2011 broiler meat production estimate by 25 million pounds to 9.0 billion pounds and resulted in decreased estimates for the first and second quarters of 2012. The lower production is expected to gradually lower stocks. Turkey production was basically unchanged in October as slightly higher bird numbers were offset by lower bird weights. Cold storage holdings for whole turkeys continued below those of a year earlier, putting upward pressure on prices.

Poultry Trade: Broiler and turkey shipments rose in October. Broiler exports totalled 689.7 million pounds, a 2.5 per cent increase from a year ago. Turkey exports totalled 59.2 million pounds, an increase of 20.7- per cent from October 2010.

Sheep/Lamb: The sheep industry, buoyed by strong prices and an industry policy to grow the inventory, may be poised to see its first inventory increase since 2006. Consistently high Choice Slaughter lamb prices at San Angelo coupled with reductions in production and live trade may be signaling increased retention.

Dairy: An improved feed price outlook is balanced by lower milk prices in 2012. Production in 2012 is forecast to rise slightly based on higher milk output per cow. Exports are likely to decline next year compared with 2011, contributing further to the lower milk price outlook.

Fourth-Quarter Pork Export Forecast Increased on Strong Asian Demand

The US pork industry is expected to ship 1.4 billion pounds of pork products to foreign destinations in the fourth quarter of this year, an increase of more than 22 per cent over the same period in 2010. Sales are expected to be strong to Asia, where demand for US pork is expected to increase year-over-year due to a combination of factors, including continued low-exchange values of the US dollar and government efforts to moderate consumer pork price increases brought about, in part, by recent outbreaks of various swine diseases. With larger fourth-quarter exports, total exports for 2011 are expected to reach slightly more than 5.1 billion pounds, an increase of 21 per cent over exports in 2010.

Export growth next year is expected to tail-off as Asian pork production increases, and consumer food price inflation abates. Total US pork exports in 2012 are expected to be about the same as this year, 5.1 billion pounds.

Pork products available to the domestic US market, evaluated in terms of retail weight per capita quantities, are likely to be year-over-year larger next year for the first time since 2009. With higher domestic availability, the average 2012 price of live-equivalent 51-52 per cent lean hogs should decline about 1.6 per cent, averaging $63-$68 per cwt, compared with $66.32 in 2011. Further declines in hog prices are likely to be checked by expected lower 2012 poultry production (-1.8 per cent, year-over-year) and sharply lower 2012 beef production (-4.6 per cent, year-over-year). Substitution effects from higher retail prices for poultry and beef prices should keep 2012 retail pork prices in the high $3.40s per pound.

Shipments to Asia Continue to Lift US Pork Export

US pork exports in October were over 482 million pounds, more than 42 per cent above October 2010 shipments. Similar to patterns set early in 2011, 80 per cent of October exports went to five countries: Japan (+37.8 per cent year-over-year), China (almost 4 times greater than a year ago), Mexico (+.3 per cent year-over-year), Canada (+27.4 per cent year-over-year), and South Korea (+64.5 per cent year-over-year).

US pork imports in October were 69 million pounds, 11 per cent less than a year earlier. As has become the norm, almost 12 per cent of October imports were of Danish origin and 77 per cent came from Canada. Imports from Denmark were almost 15 per cent ahead of a year ago, while shipments from Canada were off by more than 14 per cent. Live swine imports from Canada in October were almost 498,000 head, nine per cent above a year ago. All categories of finishing animals (segregated early-weaned pigs and feeder pigs) were up strongly, while slaughter hog imports declined nine per cent compared with October 2010.

USDA will release the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report on 23 December. The report will contain hog and pig inventories on 1 December, as well as fourth-quarter (September-November) farrowing, pig crop and litter rate information. Additionally, the report will detail producers’ second set of farrowing intentions for the first quarter of the new year (December-February (2012)), and the first set of producers’ farrowing intentions for the second quarter (March-May) of 2012.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

December 2011