It may be repetitive, but demand will dictate the future profitability for pork producers, and analysts expect that profitability to continue. However, it's not domestic demand that's in the driver's seat, it's exports.
"When all of the numbers are in, we think 2006 domestic pork consumption will actually show a decline," says Lynn Steiner, president of Steiner and Company in Manchester, N.H.
"We've exported all of our increased production in recent years," says Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economist. Estimates show that pork exports now account for about 15 percent of the annual domestic production. Grimes points to USDA projections that indicates U.S. pork exports are expected to continue their strong run into 2007, although perhaps not as strong as in the many previous record-setting years.
"We don't see anything that suggests the export trend will stop," notes Steiner. "Exchange rates certainly favor U.S. exports."
While folks like to concentrate on the fact that the U.S. pork industry is not growing as expected despite its long run of profitability -- September marks the 32 month -- it's worth pointing out that production actually has increased.
Of course, getting a handle on demand trends and predicting future outcomes is a tough call.