Wholesale belly prices are $65.45/cwt today, which is less than one-third of what they were a year ago. Friday's pork cutout value was $65.72/cwt FOB the plants. That is down 42 cents from the week before and down $59.40 from a year ago. Wholesale belly prices are lower than the pork cutout. That means bellies are a below-average-value pork cut.
USDA's April WASDE predicted 2015 pork production will be a record 24.24 billion pounds which is up 6.1% compared to last year. They expect barrow and gilt prices to average somewhere around $50/cwt live or $67/cwt on a carcass basis.
U.S. pork exports were down 10.1% in February with most of the decline in shipments to China. Pork exports equaled 19.4% of February U.S. production. The labor dispute at west coast ports ended in late February. Hopefully, pork exports will increase as we move forward. Pork imports were up 32.2% during February with most of the increase coming from Canada and Poland. Pork imports equaled 4.3% of U.S. production during February.
Live hog imports were up 8.7% in February with a 2.7% increase in weaner/feeder pig imports and a 42.8% increase in imports of other hogs.
Domestic pork demand was up 11.6% in February compared to a year earlier. Export demand was down 20.6%.
Hog prices are less than half of what they were at this time last year. Thursday's negotiated carcass price for plant delivered hogs averaged $58.04/cwt which is 95 cents higher than a week earlier, but a huge $61.26 lower than a year ago.
The national average negotiated barrow and gilt carcass price on morning sales today was $58.74/cwt, up $3.39 from last Friday. This morning's price is 88.3% of the pork cutout value. The western corn belt averaged $60.66/cwt this morning. Because of low sales volume and confidentiality rules, there were no eastern corn belt or Iowa-Minnesota negotiated hog carcass price reports this morning.
Peoria had a top live price today of $38/cwt, $3 higher than last Friday. The top price today for interior Missouri live hogs was $40/cwt, the same as the previous Friday.
Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.188 million head, down 0.3% from the week before, but up 8.6% from same week last year. Slaughter has been above year-ago each week since mid January.
The average live slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 283.5 pounds, up 0.1 pound from the week before, but down 2.0 pounds from a year ago. This was the second week with Iowa slaughter weights below the year-ago level following 103 consecutive weeks with weights above the year earlier level.
The April lean hog futures contract closed today at $62.55/cwt, down 62 cents for the week. May hog futures ended the week at $71.77/cwt, up $3.42 from the week before. June hogs gained $2.45 this week to close at $78.15/cwt. The July contract settled at $79.35/cwt.