How long will packers be playing catch-up?

by | Aug 4, 2020 | 5 Ag Stories, News

We have been talking, at length, about the situation being faced by packers and the pork industry. Large supplies of hogs are waiting to be slaughtered while packers are trying to get back to running at their pre-COVID capacities as soon as possible. There are many hog producers who started switching diets in attempts to get their hogs to quit gaining weight, and thus stave off the need for euthanizing the animals. However, that backlog of animals has not gone away. As the hogs are still waiting for their turn, more hogs are coming up behind them.

How long will it take to catch up?

Steve Meyer is an economist with Kerns and Associates. He has been analyzing the packer situation throughout the pandemic. He says that he doesn?t see an easing in hog numbers for the rest of this year. Packers are at about 95% of where they were before coronavirus, but some plants are still having difficulties getting back up to speed.

Meyer says his biggest concern is with the projected number of hogs for the fourth quarter. Packers are processing just below the projected production of 2.65 and 2.7 million head weekly. With a foodservice sector that is just not coming back as strong, it is going to mean the demand side will remain weaker than before the pandemic started.

Meyer says the people who work with the pork checkoff have been the critical piece in the demand puzzle. He says that without their efforts to keep driving demand, producers would most likely be in a tougher spot than they are. They have been making strong efforts to promote pork with easy at home cooking recipes and demonstrations. This is showing consumers how easy and versatile pork can be, which means they are seeing adequate action on the retail side of the equation.

To learn more about the pork checkoff and to find some great resources for recipes and promotions, visit