Demand for pork at the consumer level did not get back to year-earlier levels for 2003 based on preliminary data, say Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economists. The Missouri economists’ demand index for the consumer level shows a decline of 1.4 percent for 2003 compared to 2002.

Good news for last year was a growth of about 4.6 percent for demand for live hogs compared to a year earlier. Live hog prices for 51-52 percent lean in 2003 were over 13 percent higher than a year earlier. This was with a 1.3 percent increase in production.

The bad news is Grimes and Plain believe the probabilities are very high that pork production for 2004 will likely be around 2 percent above 2003.

It will likely be a challenge to get hog prices near 2003 levels if there is a 2 percent increase in pork production this year from last year.