Interpreting the supply of hogs flowing Although cash hog prices have fallen lately, pork values have held up very well. to market is tough around the holidays, but the task is doubly difficult this Labor Day due to the shift from Sept. 1, 2014 to Sept. 7 this year. Annual slaughter increases diminished in August, but it’s not at all certain that autumn kills will run “only” 7 percent over 2014 rates as was implied by the USDA June Hogs & Pigs report.

Although cash hog prices have fallen lately, pork values have held up very well. As pointed out previously, seasonal factors often seem to support the hog and pork complex during September. We believe consumer demand has improved from spring and summer levels, which probably reflects lower prices in grocery stores.

Many in the industry have apparently been persuaded by a recent financial industry report claiming a growing domestic shortage will force China to actively import pork in late 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, U.S. industry usage of ractopamine has apparently become a major issue on that point, since Chinese imports of American pork seemed rather weak during July. U.S. pork sold to China and Hong Kong totaled 34.667 million pounds. That easily topped month and year-prior levels at 31.2 million and 24.8 million pounds, respectively, but it continued the 2015 pattern of monthly totals falling over 50 percent from the March 2014 high and about 75 percent under the peaks reached in 2008 and 2011. Still, we remain cautiously optimistic about the fall swine outlook.