By Ron Plain, Ag Economist and University of Missouri
U.S. pork exports during October were up 42% compared to a year ago and pork imports were down 11%. During the month, we exported 413 million pounds more pork than we imported. October was the 199th consecutive month that U.S. pork exports exceeded imports.
For the first 10 months of 2011, pork exports are up by 22.8% and pork imports are down 8.2%. We are on a pace to export 5 billion pounds of pork this year, well above the 4.65 billion pound record set in 2008. Through October, U.S. pork exports are up by 778 million pounds with shipments to China up 361 million pounds, exports to South Korea up 215 million pounds and exports to Japan up 175 million pounds compared to January-October 2010.
Pork imports during the first 10 months of the year are down 58.8 million pounds due to a decline of 60 million pounds in pork imports from Canada. U.S. pork imports this year are expected to be the lowest since 1998. Thus far this year, 22.5% of 2011 U.S. pork production has been exported while pork imports equal 3.5% of production.
USDA is predicting 2012 pork imports and exports will be close to this year’s level. Feeder pig imports from Canada were up 12.6% during October; imports of other hogs from Canada were down 5.6%. For the year thus far, live hog imports from Canada are even with last year’s pace.
Hog prices were little changed this week. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on Friday's report was $81.87/cwt, up 45 cents from last Friday. The Friday morning average price for the western corn belt was $80.28/cwt. Iowa-Minnesota averaged $80.34/cwt. The eastern corn belt averaged $83.17/cwt. Friday’s top live hog price at Peoria was $56/cwt. Zumbrota’s top was $57/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs was $60/cwt, up 75 cents from the previous Friday.
USDA’s Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $90.74/cwt, up 82 cents from the previous Thursday. Loins and butts were higher. Hams were steady and bellies lower. Hog prices this morning are 90.2% of cutout, a bit high for this time of year.
Hog slaughter totaled 2.333 million head this week, up 0.3% from the week before and down 0.5% compared to the same week last year. Barrow and gilt carcass weights for the week ending December 3 averaged 207 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 1 pound from a year ago. Iowa-Minnesota live weights for barrows and gilts last week
averaged 276.1 pounds, down 0.1 pound from the week before and up 0.5 pound compared to last year.
Friday’s close for the December lean hog futures contract, $76.85/cwt, was down from $85.40/cwt last Friday. The February lean hog futures contract settled at $83.15/cwt. April hogs settled at $85.90/cwt. June hogs ended the week at $92.55/cwt.