Record Pork Production to Continue into 2021, Steiner Says

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) is forecasting 2019 pork production at 27.6 billion pounds, a 4.7% increase over 2018. And experts say this trend will continue.

According to the Sept. 1 USDA Hogs & Pigs Report, much of this growth is due to efficiency gains in pigs per litter. Sow farrowing has remained steady at about 6.4 million head on a quarterly basis. But, looking ahead to 2020 and 2021, sow farrowings are expected to increase, says economist Len Steiner in the Daily Livestock Report. 

Steiner says pork production is forecast to maintain a record pace for 2020 and 2021 reaching 28.6 (up 3.8%) and 29.3 billion pounds (up 2.3%), respectively.  

Although questions remain over future foreign demand for pork, weekly export data is signaling the global shortage of pork supplies due to African swine fever (ASF). Official pork export data through August is reporting 3.3% growth over last year. 

The LMIC is forecasting 2019 pork exports up 9.2% at 6.4 billion pounds with fourth quarter shipments to Asian markets expected to materialize. For 2020 and 2021, exports are forecast at 7.0 and 7.2 billion pounds, respectively. Exports remain critical to the U.S. pork industry as 1 in every 4 hogs produced in the U.S. will be destined for the export market. 

“Year-to-date U.S. pork imports are down 10.3% with lower shipments from Canada, the primary supplier,” Steiner says. “Shipments from European countries to the U.S. are lagging as increased foreign demand is vying for more of their product. ASF continues to be a factor in Asian markets, with global pork supplies being diverted to fulfill demand in these markets.”

Meanwhile, the LMIC is forecasting U.S. pork imports in 2020 and 2021 at the lowest levels seen in over two decades, the report says. 

In addition, growing U.S. pork supplies are expected to result in increased per capita consumption of pork from 51.7 pounds in 2019 to 53.1 pounds per person per year (retail weight) in 2021. This would be the highest consumption levels in nearly two decades, Steiner says.  

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