Rabobank Global Pork Quarterly Q3 2018: Global Pork Trade Facing Unprecedented Change

Escalating trade tensions between the US and China, and within North America, are expected to greatly impact global pork trade in 2H 2018, according to Rabobank’s latest Pork Quarterly report.

“The major changes in global pork trade reflect uncertainties arising from the increasing political and economic tensions between the US and China,” says Chenjun Pan, Senior Analyst – Animal Protein at Rabobank. “New tariff measures on agri products will put great pressure on several markets – mainly the US, China, and Mexico – although the nature of the pressure will depend on each trading position.”

In addition, increased production across the globe in 1H is expected to continue weighing on prices in 2H. Disease could add further uncertainty to supply and trade, as African swine fever (ASF) is spreading in Europe. Changes in feed prices in many regions could pressure margins. The Rabobank Five-Nation Hog Price Index dropped below the average level seen from 2015 to 2017, reflecting market sentiment.

Other highlights from the Pork Quarterly Q3 2018 include:

China: Full of uncertainties

Hog prices saw a brief rebound, shorter than expected. Small farmers continue to reduce their herd or exit under the pressure, while larger farms continue to expand, so that overall pork production is still increasing. The uncertainty from escalating trade tensions may prompt farmers to shift to herd liquidation sooner than expected. Pork imports are expected to decline in 2H, due to these trade disruptions.

US: Disruptions on pork exports

Pork production continues to run ahead of last year’s level, but there is also slower-than-expected utilisation of newly-added slaughter capacity. Additional tariffs on US pork exports imposed by Mexico will significantly slow the US export business. Exports to China and Canada are also slowing down, due to rising trade tensions. While exports to other destinations are expected to improve, overall larger pork supplies will weigh on domestic prices in 2H 2018.

EU: Relatively steady market performance

While pork prices are 17% lower than last year, the market has had no major ups or downs in recent months. Expectations of growing supply and rising feed costs in 2H 2018 may reduce farmers’ profitability. However, EU exports will likely benefit from trade tensions in other regions, with some opportunity already seen in Mexico. ASF remains a big concern as it spreads within Central Europe.

Brazil: Better results expected in 2H

After experiencing a bumpy and challenging first half of the year, Brazil’s pork industry is expected to improve performance in 2H 2018. Rising trade tensions in other parts of the world will likely benefit Brazil, offering opportunities to increase exports to existing markets and gain access to new markets.

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