Sizzling hog market waits on new U.S. plants

Seaboard Triumph Foods’ new pork plant is under construction at Sioux City, Iowa. (Video screengrab from

CNS Canada — Prices for Canadian hogs are enjoying a seasonal bump as consumers prepare for the summer grilling season.

In Canada, the Signature No. 5 (Maple Leaf) Index daily price was listed at $179.68 per 100 kg (ckg) on May 26. That price was up $1.11/ckg compared to the week previous, according to data from Saskatchewan Agriculture.

“We had a nice little spring rally here, pork cut-out values pushed higher which helped with slaughter prices,” said Brad Marceniuk, a provincial livestock economist in Saskatoon.

Strong exports also helped raise prices at a time when fewer pigs are heading to market, he added.

“When you get into June and July, it’s so hot, the pigs don’t grow as fast and that’s why they don’t come to market as fast,” he said.

Cold storage numbers in the U.S. may also be one of the reasons behind the uptick.

Pork stocks in U.S. freezers at April 30 were pegged at 599.1 million lbs., down roughly nine per cent from the previous year.

“Going into the fall there’ll be more supply of pork; beef will also be up,” Marceniuk said. “So there could be weaker prices.”

However, he predicts the market will stay strong heading into the summer.

One new factor set to affect the North American hog industry is the looming entry of two new major processing plants into the market.

One plant, in Sioux City, Iowa, will process 10,000 to 12,000 pigs a day. The other facility, in Coldwater, Michigan, will have a processing capability of 10,000 per day.

“But they can go double-shift,” Marceniuk pointed out, estimating their overall annual production will be in excess of five million hogs a year.

The Seaboard Triumph plant in Iowa is scheduled to open in July; the Clemens Food Group plant at Coldwater, about 200 km west of Windsor, Ont., is set to begin operating in early September.

“It’s enough to say, ‘OK, now those new plants are going to fight for pigs,’ which should help keep demand for live pigs strong,” he said.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.


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