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Pork Commentary: US - Canada Hogs & Pigs Inventory

by 5m Editor
31 August 2011, at 8:52am

US & CANADA - Last week the United States and Canada combined inventory was released. To say it was ‘steady’ is an understatement, writes Jim Long in this week's Pork Commentary.

This quarter 7.102 million kept for breeding last year same quarter 7.103 million. This is a change of 1,000 sows! That’s what you call going nowhere fast!

Hogs and Pigs Inventory United States and Canada, June
(1,000 head)
0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Kept for breeding 7667 7734 7577 7341 7103 7102
Market 69100 70902 72803 71534 69347 69793
Sows Farrowed 3741 3840 3844 3755 3632 3555
Pig Crop 34474 35743 36443 36334 35752 35699

Some Observations

  • The breeding herd has declined 632,000 since 2007. A reflection of the productivity growth we have seen, the Pig Crop in 2007 was essentially the same (35, 743) using 632,000 fewer breeding animals. The sad part of 632,000 fewer sows is many of these producers have quit. Their dreams and equity dashed by what has been less than a lucrative industry the last five years.

  • The Market Inventory in June was 450,000 head higher than a year ago - about 20,000 more market hogs a week. The market place is handling the supply quite well. A year ago 53 – 54 per cent US National Lean hogs were 85.56 cents a pound, last Thursday 53 – 54 per cent were 101.33 or about $30.00 more per head. Domestic and Global pork demand is strong.

  • The United States – Canada combined inventory is truly relevant as we are in a continental market. Hogs and pork prices of both countries are tied together. Canada exports approximately 50 per cent of its production and the US 25 per cent. Both countries are extremely export dependant. If you are a regular reader of this commentary you are aware we are predicting $1.00 plus lean hogs for this summer a year ago. At the same time the usual suspect Ag – Economists were projecting $75 – 78. We were bullish because we saw no USA – Canada expansion, we believed domestic demand will hold but the panacea was going to be global exports due to the high prices of hogs and pork in importing countries. The scenario played out. With China, Russia, Korea, Japan, and Mexico all wanting pork and the only volume high quality price competitive source was the United States – Canada.

  • We are all fortunate that our genetic business exposes us to these countries and markets on a first hand basis. We have the benefit of this reality and it isn’t fair for the desk bound ag – economists. With over 90 per cent of the pigs of the world not in United States – Canada if you don’t get out and find out what’s happening in that 90 per cent you are left with a big fish little pond mind set. United States – Canada depend on exports for profitability, exports happen when importers have a need and an ability to make money. With many Global Markets significantly above United States – Canada we expect pork exports to continue strong for the next several months.

Corn Prices

September corn futures closed at $7.52 a bushel Friday a price that puts further pressure on swine, cattle, and poultry producers. We expect with Cash Early weans at $17.00 to see some breeding herd liquidation as producers and bankers get tired of seeing losses. The only upside is producers with land are seeing appreciation of this asset and if they are feeding their own $7.52 corn to their $1.00 lean hogs their cash flow should be excellent. Even so we believe in total there will have a smaller breeding herd on 1 December year over year as producers lose money through the fall and quit.

Chicken Cutting Back

The chicken industry is cutting back. High feed prices and a chicken price less than a year ago. (2011 - $81.22) (2010 $84.73) means red ink. The brakes are on; weekly egg sets for the week ending 20 August – 194 million down 7 per cent from a year ago. 7 per cent is almost 10 million fewer chickens per week. This is extremely price supportive for lean hog prices through the fall as 7 per cent is around 50 million pounds less chicken per week.

US Total Meat and Poultry Production
Week ending 20 August

(Millions pounds carcass)
0 2010 2011
Pork 414 407
Chicken 911 878
Beef 519 507
TOTAL 1844 1792

Year over year combined is 52 million pounds lower. In the coming weeks chicken production should decrease further while in the coming few months Live Cattle Futures are reflecting on an expectation of lower supply. Tonnage matters, we expect the combination of lower meat and poultry supply with domestic demand steady to stronger coupled with global demand will hold prices high. We expect next summer hog prices to meet and exceed this years.