Lower Feed Costs Driving National Pork Herd Expansion

If corn and soybean meal prices stay low as expected, hog weights and pork production should continue to increase into 2015, economist says

Published on: Jan 20, 2014

Lower feed costs are sparking a nationwide pork industry expansion, likely to grow pork supplies in the latter half of 2014, says Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt,

That could result in 2014 turning into the best year for pork producers in nearly a decade.

If corn and soybean meal prices stay low as expected, hog weights and pork production should continue to increase into 2015, Hurt said.

USDA reports the number of market hogs to be down fractionally in 2014, but weights are expected to run about 2% higher and result in a 1 to 2% increase in pork production for the first half of 2014, Hurt said.

"Farrowing intentions for this winter and coming spring are up 1 to 2%. With pigs per litter about 1.5% higher and higher weights, pork production in the last half of 2014 will be up 3%," Hurt said. "Pork production is likely to continue to expand into 2015."

If corn and soybean meal prices stay low as expected, hog weights and pork production should continue to increase into 2015, economist says
If corn and soybean meal prices stay low as expected, hog weights and pork production should continue to increase into 2015, economist says

Related: Profitable Year Expected for the Pork Industry

That continuing growth will be met with strong demand both based on limited competition domestically and strong export demand. Total meat supplies of beef, pork, chicken and turkey combined are likely to remain unchanged this year.

While chicken production is expected to grow by about 3% and turkey by about 2%, Hurt said beef supplies will fall by as much as 6% on the tails of a small calf crop and higher heifer-retention rates.

"Retail pork prices will be much lower than beef and will thus continue to pull some consumption away from beef at the retail counter," he said. "USDA analysts expect pork export demand to increase by 4% and represent nearly 22% of total production."