January Domestic Retail Pork Demand Down

by 5m Editor
19 March 2012, at 6:55am

US - Pork exports during January exceeded 500 million pounds for only the second month ever, writes Ron Plain.

January exports were up 133 million pounds (36.1 per cent) compared to a year ago. China, Japan, Mexico, and Canada each purchased at least 15 million pounds more US pork than in January 2011. January pork imports were up 1.8 million pounds (2.9 per cent) compared to a year ago.

In total, 25.3 per cent of January pork production was exported. That is the third largest monthly export share ever. Pork imports equaled 3.3 per cent of January production.

The number of hogs imported during January was down 5,289 head (1.1 per cent) from 12 months earlier. Feeder pig imports were up 1.4 per cent during January, but other hog imports were down 11.3 per cent.

January domestic retail pork demand was down 5.9 per cent compared to a year earlier; but export demand for US pork was up 33.7 per cent. The combination plus tight margins left packer demand for live hogs up 3.6 per cent compared to January 2011.

The US/South Korean free trade agreement went into effect on 15 March. The agreement ends Korean tariffs on two-thirds of US farm products with remaining tariffs phased out over the next 10 years.

Hog prices ended this week mostly steady with the previous Friday. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $84.54/cwt, down 7 cents from last Friday. Both the western corn belt and Iowa-Minnesota averaged $85.97 this morning. The eastern corn belt had a morning average of $83.81/cwt. Friday's top live hog price at Peoria was $60/cwt. Zumbtota also had a top at $60/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs was $61.50/cwt, up 75 from the previous Friday.

USDA's Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $82.73/cwt, down $1.26 from the previous Thursday and the lowest since January 12, 2011. Loins, butts and bellies were lower; hams were higher. The western corn belt average hog carcass price is 3.9 per cent above the pork cutout value. Don't be surprised if packers cut back on their kill schedules next week to try to push hog prices back below the cutout value.

Hog slaughter totaled 2.174 million head this week, up 2.0 per cent from the week before and up 1.6 per cent compared to the same week last year. Barrow and gilt carcass weights for the week ending March 3 averaged 206 pounds, unchanged from both the week before and from a year ago. Iowa-Minnesota live weights for barrows and gilts last week averaged 276.3 pounds, up 0.2 pound from the previous week, up 2.0 pounds compared to a year earlier, and above year-ago for the 16th consecutive week.

Futures contracts for both hogs and cattle ended the week lower. Today's close for the April lean hog futures contract, $88.87/cwt, was down $1.95 from the previous Friday. The May lean hog futures contract settled at $94.40/cwt, down $1.30 for the week. June hogs settled at $93.60/cwt. July hogs ended the week at $93.77/cwt and August closed at $94.80/cwt.