U.S. pork exports forecast to increase almost 4.6% over 2023 due to higher domestic production, less global competition.

Ann Hess, Content Director

March 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Getty Images

Hog slaughter was higher in February than anticipated, as processors bid up hog prices in response to wholesaler demand. According to the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook for March 2024, the live equivalent price of 51-52 percent lean hogs averaged $55.24 per hundredweight, up 1.8% from a year ago. Processers and wholesalers sold about 2.4 million pounds of pork, nearly 5% more than February 2023, at estimated pork carcass cutout values of $89.14 per cwt, an 8.3% jump from the year prior.

“Increased wholesale demand—higher volumes of pork sold at higher prices—likely provided sufficient margin for processors to pay higher prices for larger number of hogs,” notes USDA ERS Agricultural Economist Mildred Haley and author of the report.

Q1 commercial pork production was increased by about 30 million pounds to almost 7.2 billion pounds due to higher-than-expected February production. Total 2024 production is expected to be   27.9 billion pounds, up 2.2% from a year ago.

“It is likely that some of the hogs supplying the additional production were packer-sold and packer-owned hogs, whose lower than year-earlier weights—despite lower feed costs this year—suggests that they were pulled forward in response to increased pork demand,” Haley states. “It is notable that producer-owned hog weights this year are, so far, above year-ago levels, suggesting an unanticipated run-up in wholesale demand by processors.”

That wholesale pork demand is expected to continue throughout the rest of the year, supported by high retail prices of pork substitutes, elevated grocery prices in the domestic market and strong demand from Asian countries over competing EU pork. Live equivalent prices of 51-52 percent lean hogs are forecast to average about $61 per cwt, nearly 4% higher than 2023.

USDA data notes efforts to reduce the U.S. breeding herd have continued in the new year. For the first seven weeks of 2024, sow and boar slaughter was up 5.8% over the same period last year.

Following higher shipments in January, first quarter U.S. pork exports have been raised 7.6% to 1.795 billion pounds.  In January, pork exports reached 588 million pounds, a 6% jump from the year prior.

“It is notable that in January 40% percent of U.S. exports went to Mexico. The next-largest buyer of U.S. pork in January, Japan, accounted for 15% of exports, less than 40% of Mexico’s share,” Haley reports. “In total, more than half of U.S. pork exports in January were attributable to Western Hemisphere nations.”

Pork exports for 2024 have been raised by 50 million pounds due to strong demand from major importing countries and weakening competitiveness of EU pork. Total 2024 pork exports are expected to be 7.1 billion pounds, 4.6 % above year-ago shipments.

About the Author(s)

Ann Hess

Content Director, National Hog Farmer

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
National Hog Farmer is the source for hog production, management and market news

You May Also Like