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US Swine Economics Report

by 5m Editor
4 February 2004, at 12:00am

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry. Last year saw a number of new records for the U.S. pork industry.

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Commercial pork production in 2003 (19.912 billion pounds) was 1.26% above the old record set in 2002. Because of heavier weights, this new record in pork production occurred without a record hog slaughter. Commercial hog slaughter in 2003 (100.7771 million head) was the third highest ever, behind 1999 and 1998. However, federally inspected hog slaughter (99.535 million head) was the second highest ever, only 0.2% behind the 1999 record.

For the fourth consecutive year, federally inspected hog slaughter set a new record (98.77%) as a percent of commercial hog slaughter.

For the 14th consecutive year, commercial pork production per hog slaughtered has set a new record. The average dressed weight of barrows and gilts was 195 pounds last year, up 2 pounds from 2002. The average live weight for all hogs, including sows, slaughtered under federal inspection was 267 pounds in 2003, 2 pounds heavier than in 2002.

Most pork producers vividly remember the fourth quarter of 1998 when live hog prices dropped to single digits, forced down by the pressure of more hogs than packers could slaughter on a timely basis. During the fourth quarter of 2003, federally inspected hog slaughter was actually 0.7% higher than in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Commercial hog slaughter, however, was 0.06% (17,300 head) lower than in the final quarter of 1998. Hog markets managed to avoid a repeat of the price disaster of the fall of 1998 because packers had more slaughter capacity this time around. The average price of barrows and gilts at the terminal markets in the fourth quarter of 1998 was only $19.49/cwt. During the final quarter of 2003, it was $34.15/cwt.

5m Editor