US Swine Economics Report: Pork export fall a worry

US - Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week discussing U.S. pork exports.
calendar icon 15 September 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The latest meat trade data has given U.S. pork producers reason for concern. U.S. pork exports during July totaled 216.235 million pounds (carcass weight equivalent). That is nearly 14% of the U.S. pork production during the month; but, it is 4.1% less pork than was exported in July 2005. This makes July the first month with exports below year-ago levels since August 2003.

The decline in exports is due primarily to a 19% drop in pork shipments to Japan. Exports to China and Taiwan were also down, but by less tonnage than the Japanese decline. Japan is the largest foreign customer for U.S. pork. Through July, U.S. pork exports to Japan were down 10%. Japan started 2006 with very large supplies of meat in cold storage. Many trade analysts expected their pork imports to be rather modest during the first part of 2006; but it is rather surprising that U.S. exports to Japan are down so much at mid year.

Hog producers are enjoying one of the longest periods of profitable prices in the last 40 years. The strength of U.S. pork exports has contributed greatly to this string of profits. U.S. pork exports were up 27% in 2004 and up 22% in 2005. During the first 7 months of this year pork exports were 12.4% above the same months in 2005.

Pork exports are a major factor in hog prices. The U.S. exported $2.6 billion of pork meat and byproducts in 2005. That is the equivalent of $25.44 for each hog slaughtered last year. Growth in exports allows the U.S. hog industry to grow without putting burdensome supplies of pork on the domestic market. A slowdown in exports will mean more pork on the domestic market.

Pork imports into the U.S. are running close to last year’s level. July imports were down 2.3% but year-to-date pork imports are up 1%.

The number of live hogs imported from Canada during the first 7 months of this year is up 9.3% with 397,340 more feeder pigs being imported and 20,998 more hogs shipped south. Slightly over half the feeder pig imports are of pigs weighing less than 15 pounds.

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