The last USDA Hogs and Pigs report issued in December estimated this year’s supply of pork will be larger than most analysts expect. Todd Gleason has more on how that will happen.
U.S. pork producers, in the last quarter of 2016 set a pigs per litter record,10.63. For the whole of the year, the new annual record is 10.5 pigs per litter. Every sow is having more pigs. Given these numbers, the industry will increase pork output by about three percent this year says Purdue University Extension Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt.
Quote Summary - And that will be to 25.7 billion pounds. This represents a 12 percent increase since 2014 when PED reduced production and contributed to record high hog prices. Pork production will rise by two percent in the first-half of 2017 and by about four percent in the last-half.
What does this mean for the price of hogs? With three percent higher production one might expect annual prices to be lower, however there are additional items to consider
First, retail prices did drop in 2016, but there is opportunity for those prices to come down more. Lower retail prices will stimulate the quantity of pork that consumers purchase. Secondly, USDA expects exports to expand by five percent which will move more of the increased production to foreign customers. Finally, with the addition of new processing capacity, the farm-to-wholesale margins are expected to drop. Lower margins at the processing stage may contribute to stronger bids to hog producers.
Live hog prices are expected to be about $48 in 2017, $2 higher than in 2016. Chris Hurt predicts prices will average $45 in the first quarter, the very-low $50s in the second and the third quarters, and then drop to $43 in the final quarter of 2017. A range of $2 higher or lower would be reasonable for price projections. He expects costs of production are expected to be around $50 on a live weight basis in both 2016 and 2017 based on current feed price expectations.
This means the industry operated at an estimated loss of about $12 per head in 2016 and is expected to have losses that average about $6 per head in 2017. Losses in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to be about $13 dollars per head. Modest profits may return in the second and third quarters. Then with a return to the largest losses of the year in the final quarter maybe around $18 per head.
Because the 2017 outlook is for weak returns the Purdue number cruncher says it is important hog farmers keep further expansion to a minimum. This will be difficult with new processing capacity coming in 2017 as those plants will want to stimulate some added production to fill their lines.