Pork production is expected to set a new record of 20.1 billion lb. in 2004, exceeding 2003’s record of 19.9 billion lb., says Joel Green, livestock analyst for USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board.

Hog slaughter will increase this year, but fall about 300,000 head short of 1999’s record 101.5 million, he reports at USDA’s Annual Outlook Conference, Arlington, VA.

U.S. pork supplies will continue to be strongly impacted by large numbers of imported hogs from Canada. Last year, says Green, Canada shipped 7.4 million head to the U.S., two-thirds of which were feeder pigs.

“In five years, the share of imports that are feeder pigs has increased from 50% to an expected 70% this year,” he says. “Available grain, slaughter capacity and established business relationships are expected to continue to see feeder pig movement from Canada to the U.S.” Canadian hog imports to the U.S. in 2004 are expected to equal last year’s levels.

Pork exports are projected to rise about 3% to 1.77 billion lb., bolstered by countries banning beef due to BSE and banning poultry due to avian influenza. The weaker U.S. dollar also favors U.S. pork exports over competitors Canada and Denmark – especially to Japan.

Pork imports are pegged at 1.2 billion lb. in 2004, 3.5% higher than 2003, with growth expected to slow because the weaker U.S. dollar raises the cost of imported pork.