August Pork Exports Down Compared to Last Year

US - Pork exports in August were down 0.8 per cent compared to a year earlier, writes Ron Plain.
calendar icon 16 October 2010
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Our biggest foreign customer, Japan, purchased 0.7 per cent less US pork than in August 2009. Mexico and Canada each purchased more US pork than in August 2009. In total, 16.7 per cent of August’s US pork production was exported.

August pork imports were up 11.3 per cent from July and up 23.2 per cent from last August. All major suppliers shipped more pork to us than in August 2009. August pork imports equaled 4.6 per cent of US production.

During the first eight months of the year, pork imports were up 3.8 per cent and pork exports were up 4.9 per cent compared to January-August 2009.

The number of hogs imported from Canada during August, 472,103 head, was up 6.1 per cent from a year earlier. This was the first time in 29 months that swine imports were above year-earlier. Feeder pig imports were up 9.6 per cent while imports of slaughter hogs were down 6.7 per cent.

USDA’s Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $81.25/cwt, up 34 cents from the previous Thursday. Loins, butts and bellies were higher, but hams were lower.

Despite some strength in cutout, hog prices were sharply lower this week. The national weighted average carcass price for negotiated hogs Friday morning was $64.35/cwt, $7.00 lower than the previous Friday. Regional average prices on Friday morning were: eastern corn belt $64.71, western corn belt $64.11, and Iowa-Minnesota $64.10/cwt. The top live hog price Friday at Zumbrota, MN was $47/cwt. The top was $44/cwt at Peoria. The interior Missouri live top Friday was $47.50/cwt, $5.25 lower than the previous Friday.

Last week’s hog slaughter was the largest of the year and this week is bigger still. Hog slaughter totaled 2.263 million head this week, up 0.4 per cent from the week before but down 1.3 per cent compared to slaughter during the same week last year. Year-to-date, pork production is down 4.5 per cent.

The average carcass weight of barrows and gilts slaughtered the week ending 2 October was 201 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and 2 pounds heavier than a year ago. Iowa-Minnesota live weights last week averaged 272.6 pounds, up 3.7 pounds compared to a year earlier.

The December lean hog futures contract ended the week at $68.90/cwt, down $4.95 from last Friday. The February contract ended the week at $73.32, down $4.63 from the week before. April lean hogs ended the week at $82.90.

December corn futures ended the week 35 cents higher at $5.63/bushel. December soybean meal gained $12 this week to settle at $328.20/ton.

The combination of rising feed costs and falling hog price is rapidly driving down per head profits.

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