Pork Production Climbs 7%, Exports Expected to Increase

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

Third-quarter commercial pork production is forecast at almost 6.8 billion pounds, more than 7% higher than a year ago, according to the August Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.

Expansion in the pork sector and an additional slaughter day has resulted in U.S. hog slaughter and pork production running ahead of year-earlier rates in July, says Mildred Haley, ag economist for the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS).

Estimated federally inspected hog slaughter in July was 10.5 million head. Taking account of the extra slaughter day this year in July, slaughter numbers were 5.4% ahead of July 2018. Haley said estimated federally inspected pork production came in at about 2.4 billion pounds, a more than 6% increase from a year ago, after accounting for the extra slaughter day. 

July prices of live equivalent 51% to 52% lean hogs averaged $53.05 per cwt, 4.2% below a year ago.

Ham prices increased, likely from increased foreign demand, Haley said. Prices of 23- to 27-pound trimmed selected hams averaged $60.83 per cwt the week ending July 5, and finished July averaging $89.93, a major increase of almost 48%. 

Hog prices increased more than 19% from mid-July until the end of the month, as processors bid up hog prices and some processors slaughtered increased numbers of hogs to fill large ham orders, she said.

Still, the report shows weekly gross hog-processing spread in July averaged about $21.60 per hog, nearly 16% below the same period last year.

Meanwhile, year-end pork cold stock estimates were raised for both 2019 and 2020, due to rising monthly stocks for some pork cuts. First-half pork exports were almost 2% lower than a year ago, Haley said. 

Although pork shipments to Mexico and Asia were weak (with the exception of those to China\Hong Kong), exports to Canada and Australia were strong. Haley said third-quarter exports are expected to increase more than 19% over a year ago.

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