Hot global pork market cooling down: Rabobank

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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UTRECHT, The Netherlands -- Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) cast a pall over global pork markets that won't be easily shaken off, according to a new Rabobank report.

Pork producers in the United States, Canada and Mexico are mindful that winter not only brings inclement weather but also the possible re-emergence of PEDv. In the US, pork producers are looking to raise production, but the return of PEDv is a risk factor, according to Rabobank's Pork Quarterly.

Prices for hogs in Canada sharply declined in the third quarter on rising competition for other markets. Producers directed pork shipments away from Russia in response to that country's import ban. Rabobank expects the competitive environment to linger until the ban is lifted.

"The dark horse for 2015 will be the possible impact of PEDv, despite largely dodging the virus so far," according to the report.

Meanwhile, Mexico suffered the most devastating losses to PEDv of all affected pork-producing countries. Year-over-year slaughter numbers fell 11.1 percent, slightly higher than anticipated, Rabobank noted. However, margins will set records in 2014 due to declining feed costs and higher prices for hogs.

"As Russian markets will not open again until July next year, the wildcard next year will be the possible return of PEDv this winter, cutting back available hogs for slaughter in 2015," said Albert Vernooij, Rabobank analyst.

In China, market conditions are supportive of recovery and import growth in the Q1 2015. Tailwinds for China's pork market include subdued supply and rebounding demand. Additionally, Chinese pork farmers can expect to make a profit due to declining feed costs, Rabobank reported.

Competition from the US and Canada along with the Russian import ban resulted in a disappointing year for the European Union pork industry, according to Rabobank. Domestic demand, competition and the ban will continue to pressure export levels for the remainder of the year.

Brazil will be the biggest beneficiary of Russia's import ban, according to Rabobank. Brazil already has seen a 30 percent per kilogram surge in pork prices. Exports to Russia jumped 18 percent in volume, representing almost 50 percent of Brazil's pork export value, Rabobank noted.

"This might pose a significant risk in the future should the situation normalize," Rabobank said in its pork report. "A positive Q4 outlook is expected."

Japan's pork market continues to perform well with consumption stabilizing despite surging imports and higher retail prices resulting from the depreciation of the Yen against the US dollar and higher prices for competing proteins, according to Rabobank.

Prices for hogs and wholesale prices for pork dropped in South Korea on higher than expected supplies of pork, Rabobank reported. South Korea had smaller than anticipated levels of PEDv. However, prices will remain firm going into 2015.

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