Retail pork prices have rebounded nicely in recent months, following a sluggish start to the year.

Pork prices in July were 2.7 percent higher than in May. Retail prices for the first seven months ran 2 percent below those in the same period of 2005.

"Even though June and July pork prices showed a good response at both retail and wholesale levels, the supply of pork per person for January to July is down from a year earlier," notes Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economist.

Meanwhile, pork production for the first 7 months exceeded 2005 by 1.6 percent, however, U.S. pork exports have claimed nearly 2 percent more of the production quota than in 2005. "The live-hog price would likely have been down 17 percent to 20 percent for January to July without this year's growth in pork exports," says Grimes. 

Through July, pork consumption per capita is believed to be down between 1 percent and 2 percent, he adds.

Marketers and consumers gained the most from lower live-hog prices in the first seven months, down 9.9 percent below 2005. At the same time, the total marketing margin was up 1.6 percent, with the retailer-processors' margin up 0.9 percent and the packers' margin 4.7 percent higher than 12 months earlier.

As for pork product supplies, cold storage stocks on July 31 were down 8 percent from 12 months earlier; belly stocks were down 26 percent from 12 months earlier. Both are positive for hog prices this fall -- so long as import sales continue.

 Source: University of Missouri/ Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain