Huge increase in imported Canadian slaughter hogs

US Swine Economics Report - 2nd October 2003. - Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week explaining why we are now experiencing a slow decline in spot market sales of slaughter hogs.
calendar icon 3 October 2003
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The May 20 announcement that the Canadian government had found one cow in Alberta with BSE put an immediate halt to the movement of cattle from Canada into the U.S. It has also had a dramatic impact on the hog trade between the two countries. For the weeks in 2003 prior to May 20, the number of hogs and pigs imported from Canada was 6.3% above year-earlier levels. In the weeks after May 20, live hog and pig imports have averaged 33.4% above last year's pace.

There has been a huge increase in the number of slaughter hogs being exported from Canada. For the 20 weeks prior to May 20, the number of barrows and gilts imported from Canada for slaughter was down 27.4% compared to the same weeks of 2002. For the 17 weeks since May 20, barrow and gilt imports are up 49.8% compared to the same weeks in 2002.

There has also be a dramatic increase in the number of cull sows and boars being imported. In the first 20 weeks of 2003 we imported 2.5% fewer sows and boars than early in 2002. In the 17 weeks since May 20 we have imported 42.4% more sows and boars than during the comparable period in 2002.

There has been only a slight increase in the southerly flow of feeder/weaner pigs (from up 21.5% compared to 2002 before the BSE announcement to up 28.2% after).

At the current pace, it looks like total live hog imports in 2003 will total well over 6 million head, a new record.

Surprisingly, there has not been much impact on pork shipments from Canada to the U.S. During the first 4 months of 2002 (weekly trade data is not available for pork trade), the U.S. imported 18.9% more pork than in January-April 2002. In June and July of this year we imported 14.2% more than in those two months of 2002.

Besides the BSE incident, which has driven down Canadian beef prices and driven up U.S. beef prices making it more attractive to sell hogs in the U.S., another major reason for the sharp increase in the importation of slaughter hogs from Canada was the suspension of slaughter earlier this summer at the Springhill Farms plant in Manitoba. The plant had been killing about 18,000 head per week prior to shutdown. It appears that almost all of the hogs that would have been slaughtered at Springhill have ended up being killed in the U.S.

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