The price of hogs is on the rebound. It appears to be the economic remnants of a widespread disease outbreak in 2014.
The pork industry continues to adjust from the supply shock created by the PED virus last year. Live hog prices peaked in the summer of 2014 as Porcine Epidemic Virus losses mounted and then fell into the late winter of this season. Looking back it seems prices overshot on the high side due to PED, thinks Purdue University Ag Economist Chris Hurt, and then undershot early this year as market supplies were restored. He says the third phase of this cycle now seems to be the recent recovery in prices - up from the $45 low made in March.
Quote Summary - Now, they have recovered to the low $60s. The low prices in March were clearly related to 14 percent higher production for that month compared to year previous levels and market concerns that pork supplies were going to remain higher by ten percent or more into the spring.
The recent recovery in hog prices, apparently, is related to the fact supplies have not been that high. April pork production was up eight percent. May was about six percent higher. Both are in alignment with the last inventory count from USDA. If those inventory counts continue to hold, then second quarter pork production will be up by six percent, the third quarter up by seven percent, and the final quarter of the year up only four percent says Chris Hurt. He says not only are fewer hogs coming to market, but that they weigh less, too.
Quote Summary - I would guess we’ll average one percent lower weights for most of the rest of this year.
Fewer hogs at lower weights are causing a mid year bump in prices. Live hog prices in the first quarter of the year were $48.47 according to USDA. Prices are expected to average near $58 in the second and third quarters. Hurt thinks it will drop to about $51 in the last quarter of the year, and decline to the high$40 level for the first quarter of 2016. These numbers mean hog producers will make money this year, but lose money starting in 2016 unless the price of corn stays on the bottom of its trading range.
The next important benchmark for the pork industry is USDA’s June Hogs and Pigs report due the 26th. It will show how the industry has grown or contracted since March.
Quote Summary - Producers reported in the March update that they intended to reduce this summer’s farrowings by two percent. This was a surprise given the generally profitable industry since mid–2013. If farrowings should actually expand, this would increase pork production early next year and keep a bearish cast over the industry to start 2016.
If you’d like to learn more about the livestock sector, in particular the pork industry, from Chris Hurt, you may read his thoughts on the Farm Doc Daily website.