Economist shares outlook on potential growth in the pork industry

A livestock economist says potential growth in the pork industry depends on a couple of different factors.

Dr. Steve Meyer, with Iowa-based Partners for Production Agriculture, says some of the challenges facing expansion are labor and production costs.

He tells Brownfield, “I don’t think these costs are going anywhere. Maybe a little, but we’re not going back to the $50s or $60s and I’ll be surprised if we get to the $70s. For the foreseeable future we have costs of production in the upper $80s, low $90s for the next year.”

Looking ahead, Meyer says he anticipates modest growth in the sow herd.

“I don’t think we’re going to see the breeding herd grow very much. We can produce more pigs with the same amount of animals we have out there,” he says. “…I’d be surprised if in the next two or three years we see a two percent year over year growth. It’s going to be more like one percent. So, slow growth.”

He says there should be a return to productivity growth at some point.

“We have basically been flat on pigs per litter for the last two and a half years and before that we were growing rapidly. The genetic capability of the animals is still growing it’s really been operationally that we haven’t gotten those pigs out of them. That depends on labor, animal diseases, and more.”

During the recent Midwest Pork Conference Meyer said there could be a 1.2 percent to 1.8 percent per year growth in litter size.

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