Demand strengthening pork, hog prices

In 2025, the USDA ERS expects 27% of commercial pork production will be exported.

Ann Hess, Content Director

May 23, 2024

3 Min Read
National Pork Board

It appears the U.S. pork sector has steadied compared to a year ago, due to stable consumer pork demand. According to the USDA Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook for May 2024, January–April hog prices increased 6.3%, year-over-year, and the value of the wholesale pork carcass rose more than 13% over the same period in 2023.

USDA ERS Agricultural Economist Mildred Haley and author of the report notes estimated federally inspected hog slaughter through April, at 43 million head, was 0.5% above the same period a year prior, after equalizing for slaughter days. 2024 estimated pork production was slightly higher, 0.1%, than the same period in 2023 after balancing in slaughter day numbers.

“The small year-over-year production increase this year was due to the fractionally higher slaughter numbers that slightly offset the heavier January–April 2023 dressed weights. It is notable, then, that with pork production almost 3% higher in the January–April period, live equivalent prices of 51-52% lean hogs averaged $57.43 per cwt, 6.3% higher than prices over the same period last year,” Haley states.

Haley cites strong consumer demand for improving hog prices, especially in the wholesale market. In the first four months of 2024, the estimated pork carcass cutout averaged $92.09 per cwt, more than 13% higher than the same period last year. While the United States exported more than 25% of commercial pork production in Q1 2024, Haley notes the majority of pork is being consumed domestically.

U.S. pork exports in March were 621 million pounds, up 2% from shipments the year prior. While exports to Western Hemisphere nations were 8% lower than in March 2023, shipments to Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala helped to offset some of the lower exports to Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

Remaining quarters of 2024

In Q2 2024, commercial pork production is expected to reach 6.7 billion pounds, a 1.5% increase over the prior year.  

“This volume is slightly higher than last month’s forecast, due to a slightly faster slaughter pace on the one hand, while USDA data suggest that weights of packer-owned and packer-sold hogs continue to lower averaged dressed weights,” Haley notes.

Total 2024 commercial pork production is anticipated to increase to 28.1 billion pounds, a 2.8% jump from 2023’s production numbers. The forecast for prices of second-quarter live equivalent 51-52% lean hogs are expected to average $68 per cwt, almost 21% higher than prices in 2023.

“In the remaining quarters of 2024, hog prices are reduced by $1 per cwt, to $71 in the third quarter and $56 in the fourth quarter,” Haley notes. “Quarterly 2024 price forecasts should average to about $63 per cwt, almost 7% higher than hog prices in 2023.”

2025 outlook

U.S. commercial pork production is expected to see an uptick to 28.4 billion pounds in 2025, a 1.2% increase from the forecasted production for 2024. However, quarterly hog price forecasts should average around $60 per cwt for 2025, nearly 4% lower than 2024 expected prices.

“Production forecasts are based on stated farrowing intentions in the March Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report and year-over-year farrowing increases next year of less than 1%. Litter rates are also expected to contribute to increased production, but at a year-over-year-rate of a little more than 1% compared with rates forecast for 2024,” Haley notes. “Estimated average dressed weights next year are anticipated to grow modestly, at rates less than 1% compared to year-over-year aggregate weight changes observed so far in 2024.”

As for 2025 exports, Haley anticipates 7.6 billion pounds, a 5% jump from forecasted 2024 exports. In 2025, the USDA ERS expects 27% of commercial pork production will be exported.

“Export forecasts for next year are based on positive Western Hemisphere nation growth prospects, combined with a favorable U.S. position compared with the receding presence of European pork—with its higher accompanying prices, rendering it uncompetitive,” Haley concludes.

About the Author(s)

Ann Hess

Content Director, National Hog Farmer

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