The demand at both the consumer level for pork and the live hog levels continue to be very strong, according to Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economists. The economists demand index shows consumer demand for pork for January-July was up 3.1 percent from the same period for 2003.

Due to higher retail prices and narrower marketing margins the live hog demand index shows an 11.4 percent increase for January-July compared to the same time period for 2003.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether the strong demand for all meat is sustainable. The Missouri economists say it is probably not at the currently levels, but hope that strong demand may continue on some level for several years.

The demand for beef at the consumer level for the first seven months of 2004 was up 7.7 percent, the consumer demand for broilers was up 3.6 percent and turkey demand was up 1.0 percent for this period compared to the same period in 2003.

Cold storage stocks at the end of July continue to be positive for pork. The total pork stocks on July 31 were down 16 percent from a year earlier. Ham stocks were down 30 percent, bellies were down 27 percent, loins were down 15 percent and butts were down 44 percent.

Slaughter continues to run quite large. This week slaughter was estimated at 1.996 million head, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier. With record or near record slaughter levels prices were pushed a bit lower this week for hogs. Even with these lower prices, the strong demand is holding stronger than a year ago. Last week, prices were between 45 percent to 52 percent higher than a year earlier, even with 4 percent larger slaughter.