Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hog packing capacity increasing

After worries that there wouldn’t be enough packing plant capacity last fall, this year there are new plants coming on stream, including the Clemens Food Group close by at Coldwater, Michigan.

It will be competing for hogs from Ontario, but will be facing aggressive bidding from Quebec packers who pay the freight to their plants, says Patrick O’Neil, marketing division manager for the Ontario Pork marketing board.

“It’s unambiguously good news to have more processing capacity close to Ontario,” O’Neil is quoted in an article by John Greig of Glacier FarmMedia.

The Clemens Food Group, a vertically integrated pork production company, is building a 550,000-square-foot fresh pork processing plant which is about a four-hour drive from Sarnia or Windsor, making it the closest U.S. plant.

Regulations also allow more weight per axle, or hogs per trailer, in Michigan than in Ohio or Indiana.

The plant will begin buying hogs before end of the year.

Seaboard Triumph Foods is building a new plant at Sioux City, Iowa and Prestage Farms says it wants to build in Iowa, but so far hasn’t been able to nail down a site.

New processing capacity won’t necessarily mean higher pork prices, O’Neil said.

“I still think most packing plants, they’re not wanting to outbid their competitors and pay more than the U.S. average price for hogs,” he told Greig.

The Clemens family also produces hogs and will use much of the plant capacity. It also has commitments from other producers.

“It’s going to be a really good option close by and it’s a big company. To actually gauge the impact, we’re going to have to see what happens,” said O’Neil.

“The distance, especially if you have pigs in London or west, it’s significantly closer to ship the pigs into Coldwater than into Quebec.”