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US Hog Inventory Up, But Herd Down (July 2008)

by 5m Editor
23 July 2008, at 12:00am

By Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePigSite. Our snapshot of the ongoing global pig industry trends as reported in July 2008 Whole Hog Brief. To read the full detailed analysis including all the commentary and graphical data, subscribe to the publication.

The US breeding herd numbers have dropped by one per cent on last year and a similar amount on the last quarter according to the latest figures from the USDA, the Whole Hog reports.

It shows the breeding herd standing at 6.07 million.

However, the market hog inventory is up by seven per cent to 61.6 million year on year and up one per cent on the last quarter.

The Whole Hog says that the contraction of the breeding herd is probably down to the rise in corn prices over the last 18 months.

And it adds that the rise in the pig crop means a lot more pork on the domestic markets, although the export markets are still staying firm.

For this reason, the Whole Hog says, the rise in numbers is not likely to hit prices.

The USDA's forecasts for global production this year is 97 million tonnes.

However, China's production is expected to fall by seven per cent to 44.7 million tonnes, having been hit by disease outbreaks and bad weather conditions, the Whole Hog says, as well as the Sichuan earthquake.

The EU is expected to se a rise in production of three per cent, mainly in Denmark, Germany and the Benelux countries.

US production is forecast to grow and other gains are expected in Brazil and Russia.

These gains, however, are not expected to off set the loss in production in China.

The Whole Hog says that its Global Pig Price Cycle is firmly in positive territory and has been rising by between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent each week since May.

It says that the balanced growth is being driven by US, Canadian and Danish prices.

The Whole Hog reports further forecasts from the USDA that Russian pig meat production is expected to rise by six per cent this year.

In 2007 Russian production was 5.8 per cent higher than the previous year, at 39.15 million pigs.

The growth in production is put down to high domestic prices and subsidised credits, which were part of the National Priority Project, which has now ended.

Russian Pig Production and Pigs Slaughtered
The Whole Hog also reports that European prices are still high having risen sharply in June.

The EU average pig meat price was 15.1 per cent higher in June this year than last year and 6.5 per cent higher than in May this year.

The biggest price rises were in the Eastern European countries - Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary - where they were around 30 per cent higher year on year.

Canadian exports are still on the increase. The Whole Hog reports that figures released by Statistics Canada show a 4.6 per cent rise in the first four months of the year.

This rise comes despite a drop in exports to traditional markets of Japan and the US.

Canadian exports have been bolstered by a rise in trade with Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, US exports have again hit a record high with the latest USDA figures showing a52.8 per cent rise this year.

The market, according to the Whole Hog, is being driven by the low value of the US dollar.

In the year to date US exports of pork cuts and variety meats stood at 600,416 tonnes, 200,000 tonnes up on last year.

Australian pig meat imports have risen in volume, but have fallen in value.

The figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to April this year show volume up by 4.8 per cent, although value fell by 8.8 per cent.

US pork exports to Australia were up by almost 100 per cent in April compared to March and up by 20 per cent on the year.

However, the Whole Hog reports that Japanese pork imports were down by 2.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year to 184,619 tonnes.

The trend has been for imports to start rising with March showing an increase on February and increase on March last year.

Imports to South Korea have continued to rise.

During May, the Whole Hog reports, the year to dater imports were 150,992 tonnes - two per cent up on the same period last year. The main source of the imports was the US, which saw the second highest amount of pork going to South Korea in May with 9,835 tonnes.

South Korea has seen a fall in imports from Canada - 12.6 per cent less than last year.