The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook for June 18 has revised its second-quarter forecast for pork production to 5.52 billion pounds, about even with production for the second quarter in 2012.

The change is due to a smaller-than-expected June hog slaughter and slightly lower average dressed weights.

U.S. commercial pork production in 2013 is anticipated to reach 23.4 billion pounds, about a percentage point higher than last year.

USDA forecasts second-quarter average price of 51-52% lean live equivalent hogs to be $63-64/cwt., about 3% higher than a year ago.

USDA predicts that hog prices in 2013 will average $59-$61/cwt., about 1% below the average annual price last year.

For 2014, pork production is forecast at 24 billion pounds, and prices are expected to average $56-$60/cwt.

Exports Lower

In April, U.S. pork exports declined by almost 397 million pounds or about 12% lower than a year ago. The majority of the reduction was attributed to continued demand weakness in major Asian markets.

For example, exports to Japan fell by almost 9% compared to a year ago, based on yen depreciation, slightly higher domestic pork production and increased imports of U.S. beef. China/Hong Kong bought about 39% less U.S. pork than a year ago due to adequate domestic supplies. U.S. export data indicates about one-third less U.S. pork was exported to South Korea in April than a year ago.

In contrast, Canada and Mexico imported more U.S. pork products in April compared with a year ago. Shipments to Mexico climbed to almost 98 million pounds in April, approximately 12% higher than a year ago. And pork exports to Canada increased 3.5% year-over-year to 40.7 million pounds. The two U.S. trading partners accounted for about 35% of U.S. pork exports in April.

In all, second-quarter pork exports are projected to total 1.23 billion pounds, nearly 6% below a year ago. For 2013, pork exports are expected to reach about 5 billion pounds, 6.6% below a year ago. In 2014, pork exports are expected to rebound by 4.5% compared with the forecast for 2013.

Swine imports in April were at almost 427,000 head, all of which originated from Canada. The 8% reduction in volume was mainly in heavy feeder pigs – 51 to 110 lb. Segregated early weaned pig imports also dropped by 2%.

In the second quarter, USDA projects U.S. swine imports to total 1.340 million head, 7% below a year ago. For 2013, about 5% less or 5.396 million head are to be imported.