Lower Hog Weights, Lower Hog Numbers, and Big Export Sales

Pork Commentary
Jim Long President – CEO Genesus Inc.
November 7, 2022

Our observations 

  • This year’s slaughter weights compared to last year are startling. A week ago, Iowa – S. Minnesota average hog weights were 284 lbs. a year ago same week 289.6 lbs. A massive difference of 5.6 lbs. When you consider the last few weeks each and every week the U.S. has had year-over-year lower market numbers which put it in greater perspective. Some farmer arithmetic. U.S. markets now about 2.6 million head a week, assuming 7 days of production = 350,000 head per day. 5.6 lbs. ÷ 2.2 lb. A.D.G = 2.5 days x 350,000 head = minimum 700,000 probably dead ahead due to lighter hog weights. This is bullish, they only die once.

  • Huge week for U.S. Pork Export Sales. 47,940 Metric Tonnes, was the highest since January. China 11,220 MT. Japan 9,270 MT. Mexico’s 12,750 MT led the way. We all need to watch China; we expect increased sales due to their pork shortfall. China sales year to date has been about 3,500 MT a week.

  • Mexico is over 40% of U.S. Pork Exports. Last week Mexico’s hog price was 46.49 pesos/kg ($1.08 U.S. liveweight/lb) U.S. price 93.73¢ lb. lean (69¢ live). The difference of 39¢ lb. U.S. liveweight or about $100 per head. We have been doing business in Mexico for the last 35 years. Usually, the U.S. – Mexico price spread 8-10¢ lb. with Mexico higher. The current price spread is historically high. We expect this huge price difference if continued will pull even more pork from the U.S. to Mexico.

    This week we are in Mexico speaking at the XXIX Congress in Sonora. We will report our observations in next week’s commentary.
  • We understand close to 90% of U.S. grain shipments go through the Mississippi Rover system. We are all aware of shipping problems due to low water levels in the river. If this continues it’s not hard to imagine corn-soybean futures basis declines as the market prices respond to increased shipping costs or the inability to export will be taken off from grain–soybean source locations.

    As of October 27th, corn shipments this export season are down 30% from last year’s. Last week’s shipments were 17.7 million bushels, the USDA has projected the U.S. to export 45.6 million bushels per week this crop year. Projected totals for this year are 2.150 billion bushels. Doesn’t take an ag-economist to figure that 17.7 million a week will leave lots of corn in the USA compared to projections.
  • USDA is projecting more pork produced in the USA next year due to more hogs and heavier carcass weights. Hard to believe with smaller sow herd, sow slaughter at liquidation levels and hog weights currently 5.6 lbs. lower year over year.

GMO – Gene Editing 

Last week we wrote our concerns about consumer acceptance of GMO – Gene Edited pork. We cited some examples to consider before we blindly rush into what could ultimately crush demand.

A person wrote us wondering if we were against science. To be clear we aren’t. We are against pork demand issues of self-inflicted hurdles. It doesn’t matter if the science works if consumers won’t accept the product.

Made us think about COVID. There is a vaccine. We have heard for two years Government – Science telling us its safe. Scientists tell us it will curtail sickness and death. It’s been pounded repeatedly with huge amounts of Government money delivering the message over and over.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 79% of the U.S. population got one dose of COVID vaccine. That means 69 million Americans chose not to get the vaccine. Science says it’s safe, what happens if the same 69 million (21% of the U.S. population) don’t trust the science of GMO – Gene Edited pork? Crushes demand.

What retailer–restaurant chain selling pork would want to try to explain to 21% of U.S. consumers the science says it’s safe? Good luck.

The Iowa State survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers had around 60% of women saying “they would be unwilling to eat and purposely avoid gene-edited foods.”

Iowa State survey article:

One would wonder if the National Pork Board – National Pork Producers Council should be doing large surveys of consumers and then realizing the data on GMO – Gene Edited retailer, consumer, and export acceptance.

Wonder how that would work when the National Pork Board does joint financial projects with PIC (GMO – Gene Editing Champions) on swine climate issues. Who’s paying? The joint press release did not indicate how much is being committed by either party. Interestingly since Producer Checkoff money is being used there is no transparent announcement of funding commitment.

PIC and National Pork Board partnership:

Seems the National Pork Board seems it’s necessary to participate in PIC projects with the advocate of GMO – Gene Editing. Where is the effort to survey U.S. consumers re. GMO – Gene Editing?

The National Pork Board Checkoff collects over $50 million a year. The money is there to do the GMO – Gene Edited surveys. Why is this not happening? Who’s running our industry? Ask your National Pork Board Director and your National Pork Producers Council director what’s being done to survey consumer, retail, food service, and export acceptance of GMO – Gene Edited pork. It’s a fair question. One we should be dealing with sooner rather than later.