The USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report showed that in 2013, moderate increases in farrowings and continued strong productivity gains are expected to yield an annual pork production level that is about 2.3 percent above 2012. Commercial pork production is expected to be 23.8 billion pounds. Higher estimates for average dressed weights as a result of lower feed costs contribute to the higher production forecast. Hog prices next year are expected to be $57-$61 per cwt, about 2.7 percent below 2012.

Foreign demand for U.S. pork products will continue to be an important market focus in 2013. Lower U.S. pork prices next year, together with continued global economic growth will, in all likelihood, support continued strong exports. Next year USDA anticipates that 22.7 percent of commercial pork production will be exported, versus almost 23 percent this year.

Total U.S. pork exports for 2013 are forecast at 5.4 billion pounds, about unchanged from this year. As is almost always the case, over two-thirds of U.S. exports in 2013 are expected to go to U.S. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, Canada and Mexico, and to Japan. Japan is expected to remain—solidly—the no. 1foreign destination for U.S. pork exports in 2013.

U.S. pork imports next year are expected to be in line with 2012 estimates, or about 810 million pounds. In the past, the United States has imported about 4.3 percent of its annual pork disappearance; next year should be no different.

U.S. imports of live swine next year are likely to be somewhat higher than forecasts for 2012: 5.87 million head in 2013, versus 5.78 million head expected this year, due mostly to expectations of higher Canadian production as indicated by stronger breeding inventories in Manitoba.

In 2013, per capita pork disappearance is expected to be year-over-year higher in each quarter. For the year, per capita pork disappearance is expected to be 47.2 pounds, 2.1 percent above 2012. For a demand inelastic commodity such as pork, small increases in per capita disappearance are often accompanied by disproportionately lower prices up and down the supply chain. Retail pork prices will likely average about $3.40 per pound, or about 3 percent below forecast retail prices for 2012.