According to the USDA's latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report, the U.S. pork industry is expected to ship 1.4 billion pounds of pork products to foreign destinations in the fourth quarter of this year, an increase of more than 22 percent over the same period in 2010. Sales are expected to be strong to Asia, where demand for U.S. pork is expected to increase year-over-year due to a combination of factors, including continued low-exchange values of the U.S. dollar and government efforts to moderate consumer pork price increases brought about, in part, by recent outbreaks of various swine diseases. With larger fourth-quarter exports, total exports for 2011 are expected to reach slightly more than 5.1 billion pounds, an increase of 21 percent over exports in 2010.

Export growth next year is expected to tail-off as Asian pork production increases, and consumer food price inflation abates. Total U.S. pork exports in 2012 are expected to be about the same as this year, 5.1 billion pounds. Pork products available to the domestic U.S. market, evaluated in terms of retail weight per capita quantities, are likely to be year-over-year larger next year for the first time since 2009. With higher domestic availability, the average 2012 price of live-equivalent 51-52 percent lean hogs should decline about 1.6 percent, averaging $63-$68 per cwt, compared with $66.32 in 2011. Further declines in hog prices are likely to be checked by expected lower 2012 poultry production (-1.8 percent, year-over-year) and sharply lower 2012 beef production (-4.6 percent, year-over-year). Substitution effects from higher retail prices for poultry and beef prices should keep 2012 retail pork prices in the high $3.40s per pound.