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Higher Feed Costs Could Mean Pork Industry Losses

Weather damaged corn and soybean fields are also harmful to hog producers. Todd Gleason has more on the reason why.



Rising feed prices mean higher production costs for the pork industry. Recent higher corn and soybean meal prices have increased anticipated hog costs by about $10 per head says a Purdue University Extension ag economist. These higher feed costs shift the pork industry outlook from one of modest profits to losses says Chris Hurt of about $6 per head over the coming 12 months.

Rising feed costs is a new concern for producers. December 2015 corn futures, as an example, rose from about $3.80 on June 24 to about $4.30 on July 6. This increases the cost of hog production by around $2.25 per live hundredweight. In a similar time period, meal futures have risen about $40 PER ton, which increases cost by about $1.25 per live hundredweight. So, recent increases in corn and soybean meal prices have increased costs by about $3.50 per live hundredweight, or by nearly $10 per hog.

Weather is a primary driver of feed prices right now so no one knows if feed costs will get much higher or more moderate from here.

In June it costs about $50 to produce a hundred pounds of pork says Chris Hurt. With current higher feed prices, costs are expected to be closer to $53.50 for the last-half of 2015 and the first-half of 2016. He cautions, of course, that feed prices can change considerably depending on weather for the rest of the growing season. Right now it means pork producers will likely breakeven this quarter, and lose about $18 a head on those hogs marketed in October, November and December.

Hog prices averaged about $48 in the first quarter of this year, with an estimated loss of $11 per head. Second quarter prices were near $56, for an estimated profit of $14 per head. Third quarter prices are expected to average about $53 per hundredweight, which is near breakeven. The final quarter this year is expected to see prices drop to near $47 with losses estimated at $18 per head.

For all of 2015, losses are expected to average about $4 per head. Recent feed price increases are the primary reason the 2015 outlook has shifted toward expected losses. What is the outlook for 2016? Hog prices are expected to be around $47 per live hundredweight in the first quarter of 2016 and rise seasonally to $54 in the second quarter. Given current corn and meal prices, this would mean an estimated loss of about $17 per head in the first quarter and a profit of $10 per head in the second quarter.

Here’s how Chris Hurt puts all this data in perspective.
  • First, he says pork producers and their allied industries are to be commended for dealing with the PED virus in late–2013 and 2014.
  • Secondly, the industry is to be saluted for only modestly expanding the breeding herd after record high profits in 2014.
  • Finally, Hurt says the higher price of feed should remind the industry to be cautious about expansion, and to follow through on intentions to reduce farrowings this summer and fall.

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