Strong exports helped by a weak dollar have combined with a seasonal increase in domestic demand to lift pig prices in the USA by about 20% in the past month, despite US pork production rising by almost 12% in the first quarter of this year.
US pork exports in these 3 months totaled 366 411 metric tons, about 39% up from last year. With 87 631 tons of pork variety meat exports (up 54%), the total sold by the US reached 454 042 tons in volume and over US$1 billion in value.
Biggest customer was Japan, taking 105 780 tons worth US$336.6 million. But the deadline increase was a 280% rise in exports to China and Hong Kong, to102 469 tons at nearly US$170 million. Other sales included 78 646 tons to Mexico, 39 995 tons to Canada and 39 864 tons to Russia.
Midwest pig prices in May have been around US$70 per hundredweight compared with an estimated production cost of US$58. But there is still talk of a need to cut national sow numbers by 8-10% in order to bring the market back into balance as supplies continue to increase.
One source of aid for the industry has been a decision by the US department of agriculture to purchase more pork for the federal food programs that supply meals to schools and prisons and domestic food assistance. The $50 million agreement by USDA adds 23 000 tons of pork to the federal programme, reckoned to have the same effect as reducing the pig breeding herd in the USA by 164 000 sows.