Sizzling Canadian hog market waits on new US plants

WINNIPEG, June 2 (CNS) – Prices for Canadian hogs are enjoying a seasonal bump as consumers prepare for the summer grilling season.

In Canada, the Signature #5 Maple Leaf Index daily price was listed at C$179.68 per 100 kilograms on May 26. That price was up $1.11 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 livestock economist with the Saskatchewan government.

He adds strong exports also helped raise prices at a time when fewer pigs are heading to market.

“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 noted.

The amount of pork in cold storage in the US may also be one of the reasons behind the uptick.

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

The market is expected to trail off later this year, following the usual seasonal trends.

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

However, Marceniuk predicts the market will stay strong 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 is situated in Sioux City, Iowa, and will process 10,000 to 12,000 pigs a day. The other facility is in Cold Water, Michigan, with a processing capability of 10,000 per day.

“But they can go double-shift,” Marceniuk noted, estimating their overall annual production will be more than five million hogs a year.

The Iowa plant is scheduled to open in July while the one in Michigan is set to begin 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.

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