Canadian beef and pork producers could be looking at a very profitable year in 2019, according to Farm Credit Canada economists.
Last year’s strong demand appears to continue, with trade and disease issues possibly presenting opportunity.
After a period of stable beef prices, Canada and the United States entered the year with substantial beef supplies.
Record volumes are being exported without the CPTPP Trans-Pacific trade deal in effect. That trade deal opens the market for Canadian red meat into the lucrative Japanese market, as well as several other Asian countries.
Canada could triple beef exports to Japan from $100 million to $300 million, as tariffs of 50 per cent and 38.5 per cent on frozen and fresh beef come down.
According to Saskatchewan Agriculture, average feeder steer prices for the week ended Jan. 9 were down four per cent year over year.
Hog producers, also facing strong North American supplies, are poised to benefit temporarily from the African swine fever epidemic in China.
Loss of one per cent of the hog herd in China to this fever would require a 33 per cent increase in pork meat imports — or 80 million pounds.
Canada exported four million pounds of pork, offal and fat to China in 2017 out of 243 million pounds imported.
China has been building hog production towards the goal of self-sufficiency so this market opportunity should be temporary until the swine fever is controlled.
Average Saskatchewan hog prices for the week ended Jan. 9 were $1.307 a pound, down from $1.525 a year ago.
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org