The significant reductions in corn and soybean meal prices that USDA expects from larger 2013-2014 crops, should translate into welcome reductions in pork production costs in 2014. Pork producers are expected to take advantage of lower feed costs to modestly increase pork production next year. Commercial pork production in 2014 is expected to increase 2.3 percent to 24 billion pounds.

As in previous years, production increases will likely derive from a series of modest increases along the production sequence, with farrowings expected to be up modestly (almost 1 percent, year-over-year, compared with 2013), continued moderate increases in litter rates (about 1 percent above 2013), and higher average dressed weights (about 1 percent higher than 2013), which together are expected to set another pork production record in 2014.

Exports are expected to recover moderately in 2014 after a year of tough adjustments to lower levels of demand from Asia and Russia in 2013. Exports next year are forecast at 5.3 billion pounds, an increase of almost 5 percent compared with 2013. Attractive U.S. pork prices and strengthening global demand are expected to be the primary drivers of foreign demand in 2014. U.S. pork imports next year are expected to be about the same as in 2013: about 800 million pounds.

In 2014, projected production increases, together with higher net exports and moderately higher stocks levels, leave the quantity of pork available for domestic disappearance about 1 percent higher than that expected in 2013. USDA forecasts for 2014 imply a per capita retail weight disappearance of 47.6 pounds per person, up almost 1 percent from 2013.

Increased production, together with higher stocks and higher levels of pork available for disappearance, should hold 2014 average prices of 51-52 percent lean live equivalent hogs to $56-60 per cwt, 1 percent lower than the average hog price forecast for 2013. Retail prices next year are expected to average in the mid-to-high $3.20’s per pound, more than 3 percent below retail prices forecast for 2013.