China is far and a way the largest producer of pork meat and has the largest inventory of live hogs. The US comes in third on both counts. With regard to international trade, US is the largest importer of live hogs, nearly all of which come from Canada, making Canada the largest exporter of live hogs. It’s the growth in pork exports that is the real success story for the US pork industry. The US percent share of world pork exports has gone from single digits in the early 1990s to over 30 percent in recent years.
The US swine herd, as measured by beginning year inventory, has declined slightly over the last 32 years (1980-2012) from 67.3 million head to 66.4 million head. Before beginning a slow steady increase to current levels, the numbers bottomed in 1987 out at 51.0 million head.
The number of live pigs imported into the US in 1980 stood at 247 thousand head, increasing to 921 thousand by 1994. With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) coming into effect January 1, 1994, the number of pigs imported into the US began to climb in 1995, reaching 10.0 million head in 2007 before falling back to 5.7 million head in 2012.
The numbers for the US import of pigs and the Canadian export of pigs are virtually identical. Since the formation of the European Union (EU) and the treatment of intra-EU shipments of hogs as domestic shipments, the US has become the largest importer of pigs in the world with Russia a distant second since 2006. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of pigs followed by China and the UE.
During this period, US hog exports stayed below 300 thousand head and in most of those years the numbers were less than 100 thousand head, while the Canadian import of pigs never exceeded 14 thousand.
In 1980, the US slaughtered 97.2 million hogs. After a decline that fell to 80.0 million head in 1986, the US hog slaughter increased to 113.2 million head in 2012. During this period, the non-US slaughter of hogs increased from 607.0 million head to 1.1 billion head.
The US production of pork from the hog slaughter grew from 7.5 Million Metric Tons (MMT) to 10.6 MMT, an increase of 40 percent over the period.
China is the world’s largest producer of pork with production growing from 11.3 MMT in 1980 to 52.4 MMT in 2012, an increase of 362 percent. The EU comes in second with pork production of 22.6 MMT. At the present time, Brazil comes in a distant fourth with 3.3 MMT of pork production of pork in 2012, though it has increased its production of pork by 292 percent over the 32 year period.