Slaughter total in early June enabled a better read on current hog supplies. The USDA estimated the result for first week of June at 2.120 million head, which put the total for the three weeks surrounding Memorial Day at 6.116 million head. This marked an 8.5 percent annual increase.

When combined with the surprisingly large surge in mid-spring pig weights, the numbers imply the supply of market-ready animals has grown relative to mid-2014 levels. Indeed, late events suggest the industry expects summer totals to exceed the 9 percent jump indicated on the March USDA Hogs & Pigs report.

We continue thinking comparatively high retail prices are stifling a potential resurgence in domestic pork demand, but international customers have responded very well to lower U.S. pork prices. April pork exports jumped to 483.4 million pounds, which represents monthly and annual increases of 9.8 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively.

Recent hog and pork losses have essentially matched the historical tendency for early-June weakness. However, summer futures are trading at discounts to the latest quotes for the CME Lean Hog Index (which they cash settle against), which apparently scorns the market’s pattern of surging to annual highs in late June and/or early July.

We are more optimistic.

Editor’s Note: Dan Vaught is a livestock economist for Doane Advisory Services, St. Louis, Mo. Doane distributes a number of timely, relevant newsletters to farmers that contain expert commentaries and market advice. For more information, call 314.569.2700 or go to: