Retail Pork Prices Continue Upward Climb

February 27, 2012 02:14 AM

By Ron Plain, University of Missouri Ag Economist

Grocery store pork prices during January were above year-ago for the 22nd consecutive month.  Retail pork prices averaged $3.495 per pound last month, up 3.4¢ from December and up 25.4¢ from January 2011.

The live weight average price in January for 51%-52% lean hogs was $62.18/cwt., up 4¢ from December and up $6.62 from January 2011.

For the 27th consecutive quarter, Canada has a lower swine breeding herd inventory than a year ago. The Canadian breeding herd was down 0.1% at the start of 2012, but the country's market hog inventory was up 1.2%. Despite a slightly smaller breeding herd, Statistics Canada said the number of sows farrowed during the fourth quarter of 2011 was up 1.0% compared to a year earlier and predicted first quarter 2012 farrowings would be up 1.8%. It forecast farrowings during the second quarter of 2012 to be up 6.6% compared to April-June 2011. Productivity continues to rise as the fourth-quarter pig crop was up 4.1% from only 1% more sows farrowed.  The Canadian sow herd is between a fifth and a fourth the size of the U.S. sow herd.

Hog prices ended the last week $1 to $4 higher than the previous Friday. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $83.95/cwt., up $4.65 from last Friday. The western Corn Belt averaged $86.62 this morning and the eastern Corn Belt had a morning average of $83.02/cwt. There were not enough sales in Iowa-Minnesota for a morning price quote. Friday’s top live hog price at both Peoria and Zumbota was $60/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs was also $60/cwt., up 50¢ from the previous Friday.

USDA’s Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $85.56/cwt., down 76¢ from the previous Thursday despite loins, butts, bellies and hams all ending the week slightly higher. The western Corn Belt average hog price this morning was an amazing 101.2% of the pork cutout value. This can’t last.

Hog slaughter totaled 2.12 million head last week, down 1.3% from the week before but up 0.6% compared to the same week last year. Barrow and gilt carcass weights for the week ending Feb. 11 averaged 206 lb., up 1 lb. from the week before and unchanged from a year ago. Iowa-Minnesota live weights for barrows and gilts last week averaged 276.0 lb., up 0.1 lb. from the previous week and up 2.9 lb. compared to a year earlier. Year-to-date pork production is up 0.6%.

Friday's close for the April lean hog futures contract, $89.72/cwt., was down 65¢ from the previous Friday. The May lean hog futures contract settled at $98.72/cwt., down 18¢ for the week. June hogs settled at $99.17/cwt. July hogs ended the week at $99.20/cwt.

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