With pig supplies tightening as a result of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus – Reuters has reported Smithfield Foods is reducing slaughter hours at its pork plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. The slaughter schedule at the nation’s largest pork plant was cut from five days to four. Steve Meyer with Paragon Economics suggests that operating approach – cutting one day a week – could come to some Midwest plants in May. Sources in the cash hog market say plants owned by Hormel Foods, JBS Swift and Triumph Foods are among the Midwestern facilities that plan either to trim daily operations by a couple of hours, eliminate overtime or suspend Saturday slaughter.
The tight supply of hogs was reflected in weekly slaughter estimates released Friday – with USDA estimating Friday’s hog slaughter at 360-thousand head – down 51-thousand head from a week ago. Estimated hog slaughter so far this year is down 3.5-percent from the same period a year ago. Swine specialists estimate at least four-million to five-million hogs have died of PEDV since it was identified in the U.S. in May of 2013.