US pig herd hits record-breaking level

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

US pig herd hits record-breaking level

Related tags: Pig, Pork, European union

The number of pigs in the US has reached its highest point since records began, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data.

On 1 September, the US had 73.5 million hogs and pigs in the country - its largest inventory since recordings began in 1983.

The latest rise has continued the US’ astonishing expansion of its pig herd, which has been rapidly growing in size year-on-year since 2014.

So why is the pig herd rising? UK levy board AHDB Pork claimed it was largely because the number of US ‘market pigs’ (minus the breeding inventory) has increased by 3% year-on-year to 67.5 million. This is the highest figure since the country officially began monitoring the size of its national pig herd.

Price pressure
An increase means it is highly likely the number of pigs in America​ will see more animals sent to slaughter this year. This means the US will be producing a lot more pork.

Pork slaughter rates are set to be ahead of last year in the coming months. This should not be too much of a problem for processors, though, which should be able to absorb extra supplies without much difficulty, according to the government-funding AHDB Pork.

Danger for Europe

The challenge could be price. With more product entering the market, it would take “strong demand to prevent prices slipping​”, AHDB Pork said in an analysis bulletin.  

This could be major concern for pork producers in some of the other world-leading regions, such as Brazil, Canada and the European Union. If US pig prices rise and consumer demand stagnates or, worse, falls, this could force US firms to look for better prices on the export market or ship cheaper product to valuable – yet highly competitive – markets such as China and Japan.

“[This] could seriously threaten the competitiveness of EU pig meat on the global market​,” warned the UK-based levy board.

Related topics: Analysis

Related news

Show more


Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.