CHICAGO Oct 10 The U.S. daily hog slaughter on
Monday dropped more than 50,000 head, which industry sources
attributed to possible plant closures in the Carolinas after
Hurricane Matthew deluged the East Coast over the weekend.
Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork
processor and hog producer, said its employees were working
around the clock to determine the impact of extraordinary high
levels of rain in North Carolina on its hog farms and packing
plants, company spokeswomen Kathleen Kirkham said in an e-mail
"None of our processing plants in North Carolina or Virginia
suffered substantive damage, but flooding is making the movement
of hogs and employees difficult," said Kirkham. She declined to
comment when asked whether any of Smithfield Foods' East Coast
plants were closed on Monday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's daily livestock
slaughter report estimated Monday's hog slaughter at 385,000
head. That was down from 440,000 last Monday and 441,000 head on
Smithfield Foods canceled last Saturday's hog slaughter at
its Tar Heel, North Carolina plant, the biggest in the world, as
a safety precaution ahead of the storm, according to industry
USDA estimated last Saturday's overall industry slaughter at
236,000 head, down from early-week projections of roughly
250,000 by analysts and Midwest hog merchants.
Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities, said,
"We just anticipated that some plants on the East Coast were
going to be down on Monday." Based on ramped up U.S. slaughter
rates in recent weeks, Monday's hog kill data suggest plant
downtime, he added.
Roose said that a larger slaughter outcome on Tuesday would
indicate a potential resumption of slaughter operations.
Hog packing plant disruptions could not have come at a worse
time for U.S. hog farmers who are reeling from low prices for
their animals, pressured by abundant supplies of pork, beef and
"Ultimately, you're going to have the same number of hogs
coming through a narrower window, with a limited kill capacity.
You're going to have to distribute those hogs over a limited
time frame," said Roose.
(Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Richard Chang)