Boost for US pigs keeps the pressure on EU pork exports

US pig farmers are enjoying ‘good and growing domestic demand’ once again, after several years of decline, according to fresh analysis from AHDB Pork.

Based on the latest quarterly figures released by the USDA, the US pig herd stood at 73.2 million head on December 1, 2017, a rise of 2% on the year.

The overall number of pigs intended for slaughter was also up 2% higher on December 2016, at 67.1m head, while breeding herd numbers rose by 1% to 6.2m.

There are also signs of further expansion by producers during the current quarter, with sow farrowings forecast to increase by 3% by the end of February, compared to the same period 12 months ago.

“Production can be expected to rise year on year,” commented AHDB Pork, adding that the current growth in the US herd shows no sign of stopping.

“Even though domestic demand has been growing, exports too are expected to increase. This is predominantly to Mexico, driven by production and despite the strength of the US dollar.

“China is still an important market for US pork, however, so EU pork exports could continue to be under some pressure from this important global competitor.”

German numbers also up

Provisional pig census figures from Germany, meanwhile, indicate that the number of pigs in the country has started to pick up again. Recorded in November 2017 at 27.5m head, the total pig herd in Germany was almost 1% up on both May 2017 and Nov 2016 levels.

“This overall growth was primarily driven by a 3% rise in young pigs, between weaning and 50kg,” said AHDB Pork. “This suggests that the current, ample supply of pigs is likely to remain at least into early 2018, supporting production levels.”

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About The Author

Freelance journalist Colin Ley is Pig World's website news reporter