Pigs at feeder

More pigs means more pork in 2019.

According to a forecast from the Livestock Marketing Information Center, pork production is expected to be up 2 to 3 percent in 2019, totaling roughly 26.9 billion pounds. Export tonnage is expected to run closer to 6 percent.

“That number could be significantly higher or lower depending largely on sales to China and Mexico,” the LMIC says in its analysis.

Per capita consumption is expected to remain the same, at 50.9 pounds. Hog prices should also remain similar to prices in 2018.

“On a quarterly basis, prices this year may show a bit more seasonality than occurred in 2018,” the center says. “The first quarter price could be below 2018’s (down about 7 percent). The second and third quarters could bring hog prices above 2018’s (up 2 to 5 percent), while the fourth quarter may show little year-over-year change.”

Numbers could also vary if data in late December’s USDA Hogs and Pigs report is accurate. Market hog numbers were up 1.9 percent from Dec. 1, 2017, while December-February farrowing intentions were up 2.5 percent. March-May farrowing intentions were up 1.5 percent from the previous year.

Once 2018 figures are finalized, the center expects yearly slaughter to come in at 124.4 million head, up 2.5 percent from the previous year. Carcass weights should be slightly higher, with pork production estimated at 26.3 billion pounds, a new record and 2.9 percent higher than 2017.

Export tonnage is expected to be around 5.9 billion pounds, which is also a record, according to the LMIC. Per capita disappearance is estimated to be less than a pound higher than 2017.

The 2018 price average for barrow and gilts is expected to be just below $64.50 per hundredweight, down 8 percent from the previous year.

Milk production over the final quarter of 2018 was expected to be the smallest year-over-year increase since 2015, with November production up 0.8 percent. The LMIC says the quarterly number is likely to be smaller if current trends continue, and that supplies of frozen milk products should decrease.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.