Canada: Hog Markets

CANADA - The late 1990s, peaking in the fourth quarter of 2004, saw the Canadian sow herd rise from some 1.2 million sows to slightly over 1.6 million sows, only to return to the level of less than 1.3 million sows. However, it is interesting to look at the production from that sow base and the mix, writes Bob Fraser from Sales & Service at Genesus Ontario.
calendar icon 28 February 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

The graph below compiled by John Bancroft, Market Strategies Program Lead, Stratford OMAFRA [email protected] does an excellent job of showing how Canadian Pig Production has changed over the last 17 years.

The Canadian sow herd like it’s American counterpart has seen significant gains in productivity such that the percentage drop in the sow inventory results in a less dramatic overall drop in pork production. However as you can see Pigs slaughtered in Canada has remained relatively stable in the last 10 years.

The lower overall production has primarily come out a significant drop (in percentage terms) to Slaughter Pig Exports coupled with a cooling of Feeder Pig Exports. There is a whole range of reasons for this from the impact of Country of Origin Labeling to challenges of selling pigs into US or retaining ownership and finishing in the US.

However the biggest driver has probably been the exchange rate. An eighty-five cent or less Canadian dollar made us "all smart" at least for a while and grew our industry. A par dollar has instilled some harsh realities but we have a highly adaptable industry.

The land-based model of much of Ontario and the Hutterite Colonies in Western Canada under the present circumstances is proving the most sustainable.

Ontario pig producers were mostly blessed with an average to above average corn crop such that although extremely stressing margins, corn in the province is probably the lowest in North America.

This coupled with greater marketing opportunities with the removal of the marketing boards single desk monopoly and a packing industry looking like they’re ready to play has resulted in expanded finishing in Ontario.

SEW/feeder pig producers are finding more ready and competitive markets within the province. Canadian finishers who had been retaining ownership and finishing in the US are retreating from that position particularly the Western Corn Belt as shifting dynamics begin to work for finishing at home.

So although being a "sow state" to the US MidWest always remains an option for the Canadian pig producer the pattern of the last few years suggests at least for now the Canadian industry is “taking the path least taken” in the last 17 years.

Genesus Global Market Report
Prices for the week of February 18, 2013
CountryDomestic price
(own currency)
US dollars
(Liveweight a lb)
USA (Iowa-Minnesota) 76.04 USD/lb carcass 56.27¢
Canada (Ontario) 1.57 CAD/kg carcass 56.52¢
Mexico (DF) 19.53 MXN/kg liveweight 69.43¢
Brazil (South Region) 3.18 BRL/kg liveweight 73.11¢
Russia 70 RUB/kg liveweight $1.04
China 14.52 RMB/kg liveweight $1.06
Spain 1.370 EUR/kg liveweight 81.63¢
Vietnam 42,500 VND/kg liveweight 92.29¢
South Korea 2,840 KRW/kg liveweight $1.18
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