Even more US pigs… again
As at 1 September the total US pig herd stood at 73.5 million head, the highest number for this point in the year since records began in 1983, according to latest data from the USDA.
The September inventory results are 2% higher than the same point last year and are 3% up on 1 June. The number of market pigs was arguably the main driver behind the overall rise, with the figure increasing by 3% on the previous year to 67.5 million head, the highest on record. Breaking it down and the number of market pigs greater than 54kg increased by 4% on the previous year to 26.3 million head, suggesting that more pigs may be coming to market over the next few weeks. The number of market pigs under 54kg as at 1 September increased by 2% on the previous year to 41.2 million head. Again this indicates that US pig slaughterings over the next few months are likely to remain stronger than year earlier levels.
The US breeding herd also increased by 1% on the year, to stand at 6.1 million head as at 1 September. Between June and August this year the number of sows farrowing increased by nearly 2% on the same period in 2016. Furthermore, the number of pigs per litter over the same time frame increased by 1% to 10.65 head. These two factors combined led to the June-August pig crop recording a 2% increase on the same period a year earlier at 33 million head.
Reflecting the larger pig crop, slaughterings in the US are expected to remain elevated over the coming months. Looking further forward, winter farrowing intentions are reported an extra 1% higher than the actual 2017 figures. Reports suggest that the recent increase in processing capacity in the US will help to absorb the extra supply, however it will take strong demand to prevent prices slipping. With this in mind, exports of US pig meat will also have to remain healthy for at least the midterm. If US prices do become under pressure, then US pork could seriously threaten the competitiveness of EU pig meat on the global market.
Millie Askew, Senior Analyst
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