USDA’s May 16 Livestock, Dairy and Livestock Outlook report from the Economic Research Service predicts moderate increases in farrowings and continued strong productivity gains will result in annual pork production about 2.3% above that of 2012.

Commercial pork production is expected to be 23.8 billion pounds.

Lower feed costs leading to higher estimates for average dressed weights contribute to the higher production forecast.

Hog prices are anticipated to average $57-61/cwt. in 2012, about 2.7% lower than in 2012, the report said.

Lower U.S. pork prices, coupled with continued global economic growth, should support continued strong exports. USDA projects 22.7% of commercial pork production will be exported in 2013, compared with almost 23% this year. Total U.S. pork exports for 2013 are pegged at 5.4 billion pounds, about the same as this year.

As usual, more than two-thirds of U.S. pork exports in 2013 will be shipped to North American neighbors Canada and Mexico; Japan is expected to remain the top destination for U.S. pork exports.

U.S. pork imports should remain stable at about 4.3% of its annual pork disappearance. U.S. live swine imports are expected to trend from 5.78 million head in 2012 to 5.87 million head for 2013, mostly due to stronger breeding inventories in Manitoba, Canada.

Per capita consumption of pork is expected to rise in 2012 by 2.1% to 47.2 lb.

Retail pork prices are forecast to average about $3.40/lb., or about 3% below forecast retail prices this year.