Hog Outlook: Record Highs for Retail Pork Prices in August

US - Retail pork prices set new record highs in August for the second consecutive month. The average price of pork in grocery stores during August was $3.757 per pound. That was up 23.1 cents from August 2012 and up 12.7 cents from the record set the month before. For the third month in a row, retail boneless ham prices are higher than boneless pork chop prices, a historical rarity, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown.
calendar icon 23 September 2013
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The crop condition report for 15 September said 53 per cent of US corn acres were in good or excellent condition. That was down 1 percentage point from the month before, but up 29 points from a year ago. The futures market expects corn prices to stay under $5.00 per bushel through 2014.

Testing data from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network says that as of September 8, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus has been confirmed on 612 farms in 17 states since it first appeared in April. This is an increase of 28 farms from the week before. Earlier this year, a disproportionate number of infected pigs were in grow-finish units. In recent weeks, a larger share has been suckling and nursery pigs.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.18 million head, up 0.4 per cent from the week before, but down 9.2 per cent compared to the same week last year. This was the fifth consecutive week with slaughter below the year-ago level and the ninth consecutive week with hog slaughter lower than expected based on the June pig report.

The lower-than-expected slaughter numbers have given a strong boost to hog prices. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $92.97/cwt, up $2.51 from last Friday and up $22.79 from a year ago. There were not enough sales early today for any of the regional reports to have a price quote. Peoria had a live price top this morning of $65/cwt. Zumbrota, MN topped out at $64/cwt. The top price for interior Missouri live hogs Friday was $67.50/cwt, up $5.25 from the previous Friday.

The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 270.9 pounds, up 0.2 pound from a week earlier and up 2.9 pounds from a year ago.

Friday morning's pork cutout value based on mandatory price reporting was $99.38/cwt FOB plants, up $1.41 from the week before and up $21.95 from a year ago. Ham and butt prices were higher while loins and bellies ended this week were lower than last week.

The average hog carcass price is 93.6 per cent of the calculated pork cutout value. Pork packer gross margins dropped below $30/head last week. Tight packer margins are likely to put pressure on hog prices next week.

The October lean hog futures contract settled at $90.05/cwt today, down 65 cents from the previous Friday. December hog futures ended the week at $86.07/cwt, down $1.18 from the week before. February hogs closed the week at $88.05/cwt, down 75 cents from the week before.

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