Canadian Swine Industry Faces Contraction in 2024 Amid Processing Challenges

The latest report from the US Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Ottawa paints a picture of continued shrinkage in the Canadian swine herd for 2024. According to the USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, key factors include Olymel’s production cutbacks in Quebec, the closure of the Olymel Vallée Jonction plant by the end of 2023, and the idling of sow barns in Western Canada. These developments are anticipated to result in a 5% reduction in the swine herd at the beginning of 2024.

Olymel’s announced reductions, coupled with potential responses from producers to cut production, the threat of a PEDv outbreak in Ontario, and dwindling sow herds, contribute to the overall contraction. Additionally, reduced feed availability, particularly in drought-affected regions of Western Canada, may further impact producers in late 2023 and into 2024.

FAS/Ottawa projects a slight decline in the 2024 pig crop, following a 2% decrease in 2023. The revision of 2023 pig crop estimates is attributed to lower sow inventories and disease-related production issues, particularly PEDv challenges in Ontario. The report suggests a rebound in sow productivity in 2024.

Outside Quebec, there are hints of production expansion, but challenges such as slaughter capacity and labor availability continue to impede progress. Processing disruptions in Ontario and Quebec’s reduction in slaughter add to the complexities. While there is talk of expanding slaughter capacity in Ontario, actual construction progress has been slow. Olymel’s decision to reduce hog purchases exacerbates the impact on Canadian slaughter, despite potential boosts from plants regaining access to China.

Cull sow slaughter capacity is showing signs of expansion, with Jowett and Donald’s Fine Foods increasing processing capabilities. A collaboration between Winkler Meats and Johnsonville is expected to contribute to sow slaughter capacity in Canada, but completion is not anticipated until 2025.

Currently, the majority of cull sows are exported to the United States for processing. While this trend is expected to continue given current sow volumes, Canadian producers may benefit from additional options for cull sow dispersal as the country works on expanding its processing capacity.