US pig herd hits new record high for June
As at 1 June the US pig herd stood at 71.7 million head, 3% up year on year and 1% higher than 1 March, according to the latest USDA data.
Furthermore, the 2017 figure marks the largest June pig inventory since records began in 1964. The continued positive movement reflects the trend seen over the past two years.
Pigs intended for slaughter drove the overall rise, increasing by 4% on the year and 1% on the previous quarter, with numbers for all weight categories higher year on year. Therefore, supplies of slaughter pigs look set to remain above 2016 levels in the US for at least the short term.
At 6.07 million head the breeding herd was also up, by 2%, on the year, with the number of sows farrowed from December-May 3% higher. While farrowing intentions for the rest of 2017 are forecast to be relatively stable, improving sow productivity is likely to mean the pig crop continues to grow. For the March-May period this year, average pigs weaned per litter hit a new record high for this period, of 10.55, up 1% on June 2016.
Previous expansions in the US pig herd boosted commercial pig slaughterings by 3% in the January-May period, compared to 2016. Despite this, US pig prices have rallied somewhat since April, now surpassing year earlier levels. This has partly been influenced by increased export demand, with fresh/frozen US pork shipments from January-April increasing 15% on the year. While this expansion has largely been driven by Mexico, the US also sent considerable volumes to Asia, which is a key market for the EU as well. With US pork production likely to expand further in the coming months, EU pork could face increasing export competition.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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