Weekly Review: Hog Slaughter Down Compared to 2008

US - Weekly review of the US hog industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.
calendar icon 7 March 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

A push to line up hogs for Saturday slaughter helped cash hog prices end the week strongly higher than the previous Friday. The top price Friday at Peoria was $35/cwt. Zumbrota, Minnesota topped at $38. The interior Missouri top Friday was $42.25/cwt, up $3.50 for the week. The national weighted average carcass price Friday morning for negotiated hogs was $59.40/cwt, $7.56/cwt higher than the previous Friday. Regional average prices on Friday morning were: eastern corn belt $56.44, western corn belt $62.30, and Iowa-Minnesota $62.08/cwt.

USDA’s Thursday afternoon calculated cutout value was $55.35/cwt, down $1.22 from the previous Thursday. Pork loins and hams were lower while Boston Butts and bellies were higher than the previous week. We again have the rare situation where the carcass price is above the cutout value. Obviously this is unsustainable. Either cutout has to rise quickly or the hog bid price will soon fall.

Imports of feeder pigs and slaughter hogs from Canada continue to run well below year-ago levels. Based on USDA/APHIS data, during the first 8 weeks of 2009 feeder pig imports were down 36.5 per cent, cull sow and boar imports were down 12.3 per cent and imports of barrows and gilts for slaughter were down 78.8 per cent compared to the same period last year. There appear to be two reasons for the drop in hog imports. First of all, there are fewer hogs in Canada to export. Their 1 January inventory of market hogs was down 10.6 per cent and their breeding herd inventory was down 7.1 per cent compared to the start of 2008. Secondly, our new country of origin labeling law makes it less attractive to import live animals instead of meat. While US hog slaughter is down thus far in 2009, Canadian hog slaughter is running above year-ago levels. They are going to be a tough competitor in international pork trade.

This week’s hog slaughter is estimated by USDA to be 2.228 million head, down 0.15 per cent compared to the same week in 2008. During the first 9 weeks of 2009 US hog slaughter has been down 1.0 per cent but because of fewer hogs coming south from Canada, slaughter of US raised hogs has been up 1.3 per cent.

The average carcass weight of barrows and gilts slaughtered the week ending February 21 was 202 pounds, 2 pounds heavier than for the same week in 2008 for the fourth consecutive week.

The April lean hog futures contract ended the week at $62.50/cwt, up $1.60 from last Friday. The May contract settled at $72.60 today, up $1.25 for the week. June closed the week at $73.72/cwt and July closed at $75.37/cwt. Pork belly futures also ended the week higher than they started it.

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