Continued growth in the US pig herd
As at 1 December, the US pig herd stood at 73.2 million head, according to the latest quarterly report from the USDA. This figure is 2% up on December 2016. The country has been enjoying good and growing domestic demand after years of decline.
The overall number of pigs intended for slaughter was 2% higher on the year at 67.1 million head. Similarly, the breeding herd was also up 1% on the year in December, at 6.2 million head.
The pig crop during September to November was 33.4 million head, up 3% from 2016. Sows farrowing rose by 2% to 3.1 million, and represented 51% of the breeding herd. Pigs weaned per litter averaged a record high of 10.74 for the September-November period.
Producers intended to increase sow farrowings in the quarter to February 2018 by 3% compared to the same period in 2017, to 3.07 million sows. Production can be expected to rise year on year, and the growth in the 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.
Duncan Wyatt, Lead Analyst
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