Weekly Review: Pork exports in January were a record high for a month

US - Weekly review of the US hog industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.
calendar icon 25 March 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

Pork exports started the year off with a bang; up 26.6 percent from a year earlier and January exports were a record high for a month.

Net pork exports as a percent of production at 13 percent were up 19.3 percent from a year earlier. This gain in net pork exports was a major reason for the robust demand for live hogs.

Pork exports in January to Japan were down 10.4 percent, to Mexico down 7.1 percent, to Canada up 37.6 percent, to Russia up 128.7 percent, to mainland China and Hong Kong up 249.3 percent, to Taiwan down 14.8 percent, to Australia down 15.8 percent and to other countries up 84.1 percent.

Our pork imports in January were up 0.1 percent. Live hog imports from Canada were up 40.3 percent in the first month of 2008. Feeder pig imports in January were up 39.3 percent and non feeder pig imports were up 42.2 percent from 2007.

Retail pork prices in February were down 1.1 percent from January but up 1 percent from February 2007. Retail pork prices for January and February were up 1.5 percent from 12 months earlier. Marketing margins for pork were higher for all segments. The total margin was up 8.6 percent and the packers’ margin was up 7.9 percent. All changes are compared to a year earlier.

The bad news is that live hog prices in January and February were down 14.2 percent from a year earlier. However, hog prices would have been much lower with the 12 percent increase in slaughter without the growth in pork and live hog demand.

Slaughter weights for barrows and gilts for the week ending March 15th were up 0.1 pound from a week earlier but down 1.8 pounds from a year earlier. There are trade reports that producers are making a concerted effort to reduce weights. This may be a part of the reason why slaughter is staying so large through March.

Gilt slaughter for the week ending March 15 has been up from a year earlier. Sow slaughter for the two weeks ending March 8 was up 7.9 percent from 12 months earlier.

Our estimate of the March 1 Hogs and Pigs is: all hogs and pigs up 4.3 percent, breeding herd down 1 percent and market herd up 4.9 percent from 12 months earlier.

With the continued high record slaughter hog prices were pushed lower again this week. Top live barrow and gilt prices Friday morning were $1.50 to $2.00 per cwt lower compared to a week earlier. Weighted average negotiated carcass prices Friday morning were $0.54 higher to $1.23 per cwt lower compared to seven days earlier.

The top live hog prices for select markets Friday morning were: Peoria $29.00 per cwt, St. Paul $ N/A per cwt and interior Missouri $34.80 per cwt. The weighted average carcass prices by area were: western Cornbelt $48.25 per cwt, eastern Cornbelt $47.60 per cwt, Iowa-Minnesota $48.89 per cwt and nation $47.87 per cwt.

The cutout per cwt of carcass for Thursday afternoon at $56.75 per cwt down $0.54 per cwt, loins at $76.16 per cwt up $1.17 per cwt, Boston butts at $56.03 per cwt down $0.53 per cwt, hams at $42.28 per cwt up $0.96 per cwt and bellies at $60.35 per cwt down $5.88 per cwt. All comparisons are with a week earlier.

Slaughter this week under Federal Inspection was estimated at 2306 thousand head up 9.8 percent from a year earlier.

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