Covid-19: North America’s pig industry holding steady


Treena Hein, Pig Progress 

Jun 26, 2020  


For the third week in a row, US pig processing has stayed above 90% of normal capacity. Pork production overall, even with Covid-19, is now expected to be slightly higher in the US than it was in 2019. These are the developments in North America this week.


Covid-19 has caused a sharp decline in North American pork processing capacity this year due to temporary plant closures and reductions in processing speed. However, for the third week in a row, according to Genesus CEO Jim Long, the total number of pigs processed in the US rose to a level that exceeded both the week before and the same week in 2019.


Pig market weights continue to decline slightly


Long asserted that last week, the total US hog market harvest reached 2,587,000, about 130,000 more than both a week ago and a year ago. Pig market weights continue to decline slightly, according to Long, from the high weights that resulted from pigs having to remain on farms due to the processing backlog.


Pig processing projections


Jim Munroe, spokesperson for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said that this week, overall US pig processing capacity is at roughly the same level as last week, above 90% of normal.


Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS) reported that “while capacity utilisation rates in the US pork processing sector are rebounding, pork production for the balance of 2020 and into 2021 will likely reflect rates lower than a year ago as processors implement US government guidance measures to reduce Covid-19 infections.”


Overall, the service expects that pork production in 2020 is expected to be 0.5% above a year ago and 2021 production will be 1.7% higher than production this year.


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