At his annual state of the pork industry report at Pork Academy last week, Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economist, projected continued fat times for pork producers through the remainder of the year.

Grimes started by saying that growth in consumption worldwide for pork has been substantially higher than poultry. He adds that this year is the only time other than 1973 that domestic demand has been up for all meats.

“I’ve never seen anything like the current pork demand in my 53 years at the University of Missouri,” Grimes says.

Pork exports continue to be on a roll with 2004 looking to be the 14th consecutive year of growth from the previous year and the 13th year of record growth. Exports to Canada and Mexico are driving that growth, says Grimes.

For the first 19 weeks of 2004 U.S. producers have killed more sows relative to the breeding herd than at any other time, according to Grimes. This has led him to project that the breeding herd will be down 2 percent in the June Hogs and Pigs report.

However, the total hog inventories are likely to be up 2 percent from last year. Grimes also expects there to be more hogs in 2005 than in 2004 and a record slaughter of about 103 million hogs is expected in ’04.

Still the strong demand should keep prices for the year averaging $46-$49, even if demand dips some from the current lofty levels. Here are Grimes quarterly price projections (and they could be higher if we hold the current demand) on a live weight basis:

Q1– $44.18

Q2– $52-$55

Q3– $49-$52

Q4– $39-$42