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Jim Long Pork Commentary: Spain - riding high

Spain last week reached a record high in hog prices at 1.54 euro a kilogram liveweight (79₵ US lb. liveweight). Its ability to push exports to China is really paying off.

12 March 2020, at 2:30pm
  • Spain’s pork production in 2019 was 4,627,179 tonnes up 2.13 percent from 2018.
  • In 2019, Spain was the leading EU exporter of pork and pork products, with a total of 1,183,750+ (869,540+ in 2018), and doubled its exports to China (668,780+ vs 315,140+)

In 2019, the whole of the European Union exported 4,735,210 tonnes of pork and pork products. An increase of 20 percent (800,000-tonne increase). Of this China took 2,419,490 tonnes, almost double 2018. When we look at China-EU imports, it’s about 46,000 tonnes a week in 2019.

The January 2020 US exports to China-Hong Kong, indicates 97,002 metric tonnes. A year ago 26,744 (+361 percent). Obviously, US exports going in the right direction. Our farmer arithmetic tells us that China-Hong Kong exports in January equal about 1 million market hogs.

January’s total US exports were 273,603 metric tonnes, up from last year’s 201,835 metric tonnes. The difference of 72,000 tonnes is about 700,000 market hogs. Roughly the increase in US hog marketings in January from a year ago.

A year ago 53-54 percent market hogs were 51.20₵ lb. last week 56.44₵ lb. In our opinion, the increase in exports has supported hog prices to the level they are. We certainly don’t need more hogs to be produced and continue to hope export levels push higher.

Who the heck knows how big a sustainable deal will be Coronavirus (COVID-19). We all lived through Swine Flu. Big story, then went away.

We expect that Tyson-JBS have now got their system free of Ractopamine. This should increase exports to China as they have about 170,000 hogs per day. This in itself should increase in our opinion 10,000 tonnes a week to China. We do not believe either company would take out Ractopamine, or its consequences in production without thinking they could move 5,000 tonnes a week to China.

China's hog price last week averaged 37 RMB/kilogram ($2.40 US liveweight a lb.). Certainly a sign there is still a pork shortage and consumer demand is strong. .There are logistics issues due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but when there is huge profit potential and real need for food we expect that profits and need will accelerate logistics.

Mexico

Last week we visited Mexico and talked to many producers. Like much of the world, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted the supply chain. This has created a degree of uncertainty.

We were in the North-west region of Mexico which is Mexico’s heartland of Asian exports. Pork quality is a big issue due to quality demands of the export market. Producers we talked to hope the US can increase levels of exports to Asia so the US will have less to send to Mexico.

Everyone in North America is hoping that the Phase 1 US-China agreement of $40 billion in China Ag purchases includes massive levels of pork purchases.

Context

Not to minimise the Coronavirus, but put into context of 1.4 billion people living in China.

  • 260,000 people die a year in vehicle accidents in China, (5,000 a week).
  • The latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) total death toll in China - 3,097.

Let’s hope for everyone's sake this too will pass.

Jim Long (center)  with  Miguel Davalos Jr. (left) and Miguel Davalos (right) from Genesus Mexico
Jim Long (center) with Miguel Davalos Jr. (left) and Miguel Davalos (right) from Genesus Mexico