Pork Commentary : Asian Tour Week 1

ASIA - This past week, we have been traveling in Asia. Countries we have been to are South Korea, Japan, Viet Nam and Cambodia. Rapid transit with 6 flights so far and more to come, writes Jim Long.
calendar icon 26 September 2007
clock icon 9 minute read

The trip has been part of the Biomin Asian Nutrition Forum. So far, we have spoken to approximately 650 participants at the different stops. The Cambodia session was near the historic ruins of Angkor, where swine producers from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Cambodia and Viet Nam congregated. Our observations:


South Korea – Producers are receiving approximately $280 for a market hog. Breakeven is $180-200. An $80-100 per head profit. There are major concerns about a free trade agreement with USA that could jeopardize profit margins. All feed ingredients are imported and high world feed inputs are a huge factor.

Japan – Producers are receiving approximately $4 US per kilo for hogs or about $400 per head. Corn is $7.70 US a bushel (30¢ per kilo). Labour costs are high as are other inputs. Despite this, breakeven is about $3.00 per kilo. Consequently, producers are making about $100 per head. Not bad at all!

Viet Nam – Now the fifth largest hog producer in the world, Vietnamese producers are making about $30 per head profit. Almost all pork is consumed domestically.

Australia – The Australian market is being hit by record world wheat market prices. Currently, producers are losing $40.00 per head. Australians at the conference said that their industry is in big trouble. Four years of drought has pushed wheat, their major feed source, up. Imports of pork from Canada and Denmark have kept hog prices down. The industry, small by world standards with approximately 300,000 sows, is expected to contract 10-15% in the coming months. The Australian industry is looking for protection from pork imports to stabilize profits.

Other Observations

Feed costs have been a major topic everywhere. Dry Distilled Grains (DDG’s) from US ethanol production are being discussed as a major source of feedstuffs. There is big discussion about the impact of the US corn ethanol program. Factors such as corn price and dependability of supply are concerns. The high levels of Mycotoxins in corn and DDG’s is creating opportunities for remedies such as Biomin’s Mycofix product. The very warm climate of Asia has been magnifying Mycotoxin issues and been hitting some swine producers hard.

Disease is hitting most countries, PRRS, Blue Ear, Circovirus, all types of pneumonias are pushing mortalities up. What’s interesting is that all the countries with major disease issues are still making money, as restricted supply is enhancing prices. Australia, free of PRRS, TGE and aggressive Circovirus is losing money. Go figure.

The Biomin Nutritional Forums are focusing on new technologies available to increase productivity and efficiencies. We are speaking on swine genetics. There is quite a cultural shock when we show data of Woodland farms reaching 30 pigs weaned and so many Genesus customers’ farms over 25. For example, we were given data from the Philippines and the best farm in this database weaned per year is 21.90. From our observations, the producers in Asia are no different than North America. They want to get the best results to look after their families and business. They will use the technology available if it gets to this end.


Erich Erber is the CEO of Biomin. Erich has been giving an economic assessment of the world meat and ag industry at each stop. Some points:

World Innovation Index
US 6.41
Taiwan 6.06
Finland 5.74
Japan 5.56
Germany 4.39
France 3.81

The US and North America lead the world in innovation.

Global Competetiveness Index
US 1
Hong Kong 2
Taiwan 11
UK 20
China 29
India 33
Brazil 42

The US is No.1 in global competitiveness and No.1 in innovation. A powerful combination and is the major reason much of the world’s technology is being developed there.

World Meat Production - Annual
Pork 94 million tonnes
Poultry 73 million tonnes
Beef 60 million tonnes

Annual Growth Of Meat Production
Pork 2.0%
Beef 1.4%
Poultry 2.9%

As Erich points out, it’s good to be in the pork business that not only is number 1 in the world, but is still growing.

Meat Consumption Versus Income
Source ASA
Meat Consumption kg/person/year
Income/person/year US$
40kg $4,000
60kg $8,000
80kg $14,000
100kg $20,000
120kg $26,000

As you can see by the chart, increases in income will move meat consumption higher. Asian countries are having rapid GDP growth - China 11% per year, Viet Nam 8.4%. With pork as their first meat of choice, income acceleration will only increase pork demand. The world GDP is growing at 5.1% per year which will only aid meat demand.

This week, we will spend in China, as we continue the Biomin Asian Nutrition Forums. We hope to get some information on the status of the Chinese swine market.

One last point, the Angkor Temple site in Cambodia is extraordinary. It is much like the Mayan temples, but larger and more detailed. We will never forget being there and if you get a chance sometime to see Angkor - do it – you won’t be disappointed.

Bullet Proofing your Hog Business against a market you have no control over

Weaning 30.2 live pigs per sow per year is something that was unheard of only a few years ago, but today on one farm in Manitoba it is a reality.. Canada and the United States have 7.5 million sows on 40,000 plus farms.The latest annual PigCHAMP data indicates pigs weaned per female per year are 20.63.

President and CEO Jim Long of Genesus Genetics says 30 pigs per year has been the dream of the industry for a generation. Dream has become a reality.

“We are proud to announce the first farm in North America to reach 30 pigs in a calendar year is a Genesus Genetics customer,” said Long. Woodland Colony of Manitoba reached 30.02, a farrow to finish operation. These results are a testament to the ability and professionalism of the Woodland staff; Manager Jack Hofer, Andy Gross, Breeding Manager, Mike Hofer, Farrowing Manager, Rick Hofer, Derrick Hofer, Irvin Gross and Dwayne Hofer.

Long said Woodland ships to market in 155 days, birth to market mortality is 11 per cent while receiving grade premiums at the very top of their packer’s grid. Woodland’s goal for 2007 is 32 pigs weaned per sow in the calendar year. The bar keeps rising.

In an interview during their celebration dinner in Portage la Prairie with the 60 customers that achieved over 25 pigs per year per sow in a calendar year, Long said their Genesus Genetics product is working very well in the market place.

“The first six months of this year, our sales are up 47 per cent, way beyond our expectations,” he said. “What it shows is confidence by our current and past customers and the ability of us to capture new customers.”

Getting more weanling per pig makes it a little easier to make money. “I’ll say it this way. I haven’t ever heard of any one going over 25 pigs per sow per year not able to pay their bills,” said Long. “It is a way to position yourself and your business to be bullet proof to a market place we have no control over.”

As far as he knows, Genesus customer Woodland Colony is the first herd of in North America to achieve 30 pigs, weaned per sow in a calendar year.

“I think the reality is if anybody involved in the business 5 years ago, it was like a dream, like a fable, like the Promise Land,” he said. “You never even allowed yourself to think it was possible. It was an academic exercise.”

Six customers had over 29 pigs, which means other producers are knocking at that number of 30 pigs per sow. Long doesn’t know if they will achieve 30 because it is very difficult, everything has to go right.

“you have to be intense all the time in your production 365 days of the year. It is hard for people to do that,” he said. “We like to think our genetics are a significant portion of how they were able to do it. If you don’t have the pigs born, you can’t wean them, and that’s just the way it is.”

Woodland hog boss Jack Hofer says the achievement is a team effort, running a genetic line, with a huge genetic potential, and maximizing genetic potential with pro-per nutrition, feed and breeding management.

Raising the gilts to 220 days without boar exposure has also greatly benefited the colony’s pig production to achieve the 30.2 pigs per year.

Hofer says giving the gilts boar exposure when they are more mature bypassing the first estrus, and breeding them when they reach the second estrus after the second boar contact has the gilts producing huge litters.

“Once we wean them, we try to keep them alive,” he said.

Hofer’s team saw a decided difference moving from boar exposure at 180 days to 220 days, when they are more mature.

“You show the gilts boar exposure not because they are big, but when they are mature,” he said. “Instead of 180 days, we give them an extra 40 or 50 days more. Just because they are bigger, doesn’t mean they are mature.”

Woodland Colony built a barn for so many feeder pigs, but the more advanced in their weanling rates, the more often they kept running out of room. They went up to 940 sows, but dropped back down to 923 because of the extra pigs.

Costs went down big-time, and profits tripled by going the extra pigs per year.”

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