CNS Canada — Strong U.S. exports and declining cold-storage numbers have helped push hog prices on Canada’s Prairies to better levels than a few months back.
According to the latest information compiled by Saskatchewan Agriculture, the U.S. exported 173,770 tonnes of pork in November 2016, up 13.5 per cent from 153,051 in October 2016, and up 16.8 per cent from 148,740 in November 2015. U.S. pork exports by volume in November were the largest by month over the last three years.
“The slaughter numbers early in 2017 have been steady to lower compared to where they were late in the fourth quarter which is how prices move higher,” said provincial livestock economist Brad Marceniuk.
On the Prairies, federal and provincial hog slaughter numbers for the week ended Jan. 21 were pegged at roughly 181,000 head, down slightly from the week before.
Cold storage numbers in the U.S. were also lower due to strong exports. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork stocks on Dec. 31 were down eight per cent from the month before.
“Increased exports have eaten up some of those cold storage numbers,” he said.
In Canada, signature weekly prices averaged $157.06 per 100 kg, up $3.60 (2.3 per cent) from the previous week.
“We expect prices to be steady to higher into the spring,” said Marceniuk.
U.S. production is expected to rise by “a few per cent” in the second quarter of this year, he said.
“But new slaughter plants should be established in the U.S. by the end of the second quarter that should help deal with the increased numbers,” he said.
Pork cutout numbers in Canada are also good, according to Marceniuk.
“When you get all those factors put together it’s positive for hog prices,” he said.
— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.