Meat & Livestock News

Current Trends in Hog Production: A Detailed Overview

Group of pigs domestic animals at pig farm.

As of December 1, the USDA reports a total hog and pig population of about 74.97 million. This number shows a slight rise of 0.88% from the last quarter and a marginal increase of 0.02% from the previous year. These figures are slightly above the market’s expected 0.6% decrease.

The increase is mainly due to a 0.3% rise in market hogs year-over-year. However, the breeding herd saw a significant drop of 3.3% from last year, which was unexpected. In the lighter weight categories (under 180 pounds), there’s a smaller decrease than predicted.

In contrast, the heavier categories (over 180 pounds) have increased more than anticipated. This suggests that hog supplies for processing from January to May 2024 will be similar to last year’s, contrary to earlier expectations of a decrease.

The pig crop from September to November is only slightly smaller than last year, by 0.24%. This is due to a record high of 11.66 pigs saved per litter, which compensates for the 4.0% reduction in sows farrowed. This high productivity level partially offsets the intended reduction in the fall pig crop and the expected decrease in spring slaughter numbers.

Pork cold storage levels are currently below the levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. As of November 30, pork stocks were 5% lower than the previous month and 8% lower than the previous year. This is in contrast to poultry and beef stocks, which have shown different trends.

Per capita pork consumption in the US is estimated at 50.2 pounds for 2023, with a forecast of a slight increase to 50.6 pounds in 2024. This is still below the pre-COVID-19 level of 52.1 pounds.

In terms of exports, the US saw a 6% increase in pork exports in October compared to the previous year, with a significant portion going to Mexico. However, exports to China, Hong Kong, and Japan have decreased. The 2024 forecast suggests varied export trends across different quarters.

The price forecast for hogs indicates a bearish trend in the near term. Prices are expected to be higher in the 2nd and 3rd quarters and lower in the 1st and 4th quarters, reflecting changes in demand and supply.

This report provides a comprehensive look at the current state of hog production, including population, storage, exports, and pricing trends, offering essential insights for those in the industry.

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