The U.S. hog and pig population as of Dec. 1 was estimated at 77.5 million head, down 1 percent from both September 2020 (revised) and December 2019. The fourth-quarter hog count tends to be a bit lower than the Q3 number, reflecting increased slaughter during the fall, so today’s report was not a surprise as far as trend. However, USDA also lowered the counts for previous quarters in 2020, putting today’s estimate a bit below expectations.
U.S. pork production totaled 2.41 billion pounds in November, down 7 percent from October and down 1 percent YOY. The number of hogs slaughtered was actually down 3 percent from a year ago, but per-animal weight, at 294 pounds, was up 2 percent YOY. On average, hogs have been 3 pounds heavier at slaughter in 2020 than in 2019 and 5 pounds heavier than in 2018.
The U.S. exported 1.63 billion pounds of pork in Q3 2020, up 7 percent from Q3 2019. USDA expects pork exports remained elevated though Q4 but will dip about 4 percent YOY during the first half of 2021.
U.S. quarterly hog & pig population