Hog imports from Canada have grown steadily since 1994, especially pigs under 110 pounds, says Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics.

At the same time, Canadian slaughter has been increasing, since 1998, and is expected to continue growing through 2003, says Meyer. Canadian slaughter has been on a steady upswing, except for occasional disturbances like fires, and that could increase significantly by double-shifting some Canadian packing plants. Exactly how many hogs Canada slaughters and how many hogs they send to the United States will depend on several factors, not the least of which is country-of-origin labeling.

Canada was exporting over 200,000 head of live cattle, beef or veal to the United States, monthly, before the bovine spongiform encephalopathy case in May. So, getting a lot of animals and meat from Canada is not unique to the pork industry, says Meyer.

U.S. pork exports to Canada have increased slightly since 1994 to just over 10 million pounds. That pales in comparison to the near 80 million pounds of pork that Canada exports to the United States.

Don’t expect Canadian production to fall off anytime soon, the Canadian breeding herd hasn’t declined since 1997, says Meyer. With the possibility of increased slaughter capacity, and COOL lingering in the future, live hog imports from Canada may fall in the future. But that would just deal with the possibility of more pork being exported to the United States and more competition from Canadian pork in other markets, like Japan.