A recent Rabobank report says the global pork industry is starting to shift as sow herd numbers begin to plateau after declining for some time.

The stabilization is a result of better-than-expected consumption trends coupled with reduced production costs across most regions. These factors are contributing to a more optimistic outlook for hog prices and are encouraging producers to consider rebuilding their herds.

“The industry’s improved supply-demand balance has led to a contraction slowdown,” says Christine McCracken, senior animal protein analyst with Rabobank.

The U.S., Canada, and China are seeing healthier herds, which means more hogs are available. Higher global stocks of grains and oilseeds have resulted in lower feed costs for producers, which is a beneficial boost for the industry.

Despite a drop in some key Asian markets’ consumption, pork is maintaining its position as a cost-effective protein choice for worldwide consumers, especially in light of high beef prices.