US Swine Economics Report

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week discussing the record rise in pork exports.
calendar icon 18 May 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

U.S. pork exports have set a record for the second month in a row. March pork exports totaled 285 million pounds, carcass weight equivalent. This is up 12.5% from the February record which was 0.6% higher than the previous record set in April 2005. Thus far in 2006, Mexico, South Korea and Russia have been the major growth markets for U.S. pork, accounting for 78% of the total increase in our first quarter pork exports. Our biggest foreign customer, Japan, bought 7.8% less U.S. pork in the first quarter of 2006 than during January-March 2005.

U.S. pork exports in March equaled 15.2% of U.S. commercial pork production. In February, we exported 15.5% of U.S. pork production. In essence, nearly 15% of U.S. hog farms are producing for the export market. U.S. pork production during the first quarter of 2006 was up 3.6%. The improvement in net pork trade absorbed 60% of this increase in U.S. production.

Pork exports are on a very strong run. Last year was the 14th consecutive year for record exports. Exports were up 27% in 2004, up 22% in 2005, up 22% in the first quarter of 2006 and up 23% in March of 2006. This large and steady growth in pork exports appears to be related to the weakening of the U.S. dollar and disease concerns facing other meats.

Pork imports during March totaled 95 million pounds, an amount equal to 5.1% of U.S. pork production during the month. March imports were up 14% compared to a year earlier and at the highest level since December.

U.S. net pork exports (exports minus imports) have exceeded 10% of production during three months, April 2005 and February and March of 2006.

Another trade record was set in March by feeder pig importers. The U.S. imported a record 554,864 feeder pigs during the month. This was only the fifth month in which more than half a million feeder pigs were imported. The other four months were in 2004. Slightly over half of the March feeder pig imports consisted of early weaned pigs weighing less than 15 pounds. Feeder pig imports during the first quarter of 2006 were up 17% and imports of other hogs up 4% compared to the same months last year.

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