By Bruce Cochrane
An agricultural economics professor with the University of Missouri expects a range of factors, including death losses from PED, live hog weights and competition from competing meats to influence profitability in the hog industry in the coming year.
Although live hog prices have fallen dramatically from their record levels this past summer North American pork producers are expected to remain profitable for at least the next year.
Dr. Ron Plain, an agricultural economic professor with the University of Missouri, says a range of factors will play a role in determining profitability through 2015.
Dr. Ron Plain-University of Missouri:
The PED virus caused a very high level of pig death loss, baby pig loss last winter and that reduced summer hog slaughter.
The death loss to PED was much lower this summer and just how many pigs are lost to that disease this winter is a big factor that the industry is going to track.
It looks like our exports are slowing.
That's not surprising given the record prices.
How much of a drop off we have in pork exports are important too.
Weights were incredibly heavy in late 2013 and early this year.
Whether the market weights of these hogs get back to a more normal level will impact on the total amount of pork on the market and then how fast the poultry industry expands.
It looks like broiler production is increasing and if that goes up quickly then it'll be a very competitive meat compared to pork prices.
Dr. Plain says there's a limit on how fast we can expand production and with record U.S. corn crops back to back we really lowered feed costs so it looks like the good times will last awhile longer for pork producers.