WASHINGTON – In the fourth quarter of 2011, the US pork industry is expected to ship 1.4 billion lbs. of pork products to foreign customers. This amounts to an increase of more than 22 percent compared to the same period in 2010, according to the Dec. 15 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

US pork sales to Asian markets are expected to be strong. Demand is anticipated to increase year-over-year because of several factors, such as continued low-exchange values of the US dollar and government efforts to moderate consumer pork price increases brought about, in part, by recent various swine disease outbreaks.

Total exports for 2011 are expected to be a little more than 5.1 billion lbs., up 21 percent over 2010 exports.

For 2012, export growth is expected to stabilize due to anticipated Asian pork production increases, and the easing of consumer food price inflation. Total US pork exports in 2012 are expected to total about 5.1 billion lbs., the same as for 2011.

Evaluated in terms of retail weight per capita quantities, pork products available to the domestic US market will likely be year-over-year larger next year for the first time since 2009. Factoring in higher domestic availability, the average 2012 price of live-equivalent 51-52 percent lean hogs should fall approximately 1.6 percent, averaging $63-$68 per cwt, compared to $66.32 in 2011.

Additional hog price decreases will likely be checked by expected lower 2012 poultry production, down 1.8 percent, year-over- year; and drastically lower 2012 beef production, down 4.6 percent, year-over-year.

Retail pork prices in 2012 should be in the high $3.40s per lb. due to expected substitution effects from higher retail prices for poultry and beef.