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Are hog exports really off that much?

Agriculture.com Staff 09/25/2009 @ 1:49pm

Everything is relative. When looking at hog exports for the year, one almost has to be disappointed that they are substantially below year-ago levels. Yet, when examining the larger picture, last year's phenomenal export growth was something never before seen in history.

An incredible spike of 49% growth in one year suggested that a repeat, or even holding as much pork this year, was highly unlikely. Year-to-date, however, hog exports are approaching trend-line growth. Figures for 2009 also indicate pork exports, on average, are running well above the five-year average.

Since last year's export surge, world economic conditions have worsened. Pork sales suffered along with other commodities. Add to that the negative influence of H1N1 flu and, consequently, a slowdown in buying. Now with the US Dollar beginning to sink, exports are again rising with recently released July figures showing an impressive increase in export activity.

Mexico remains a strong importer with a 35% increase year-to-date. So far, 2009 cumulative export figures are down 19% from a year ago, but history suggests overall export activity for US pork products is good.

What does the future hold? If the dollar continues to slide, look for exports to increase. Hog prices have slipped the first eight months of this year.

Couple that with more purchasing power from foreign countries and you have a scenario for stronger demand, especially the fourth quarter of this year. In the end, the hog industry, while struggling, will land on its feet. From a long-term perspective, an upward trend of continuing export activity will help support prices.

If you have questions or comments, contact Bryan Doherty at Top Farmer, 1-800-TOP-FARM extension 129.

Everything is relative. When looking at hog exports for the year, one almost has to be disappointed that they are substantially below year-ago levels. Yet, when examining the larger picture, last year's phenomenal export growth was something never before seen in history.

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