25 September 1998

US pig numbers up

PIG census information from the US shows a much larger than expected expansion in pig numbers of 5.7% for the year to June 1998, to 61.6m head.

Most of the increase is in fattening pigs, since sow numbers have only increased 1%, says the MLC.

Slaughter supplies are likely to increase 4-7% in the next year, according to USDA. With Russian demand down, there is real concern that exports will be diverted to markets taken by EU countries.

"The US has a 20-30% price advantage over us," says independent consultant Peter Crichton. "That could shut doors for EU producers." &#42