Per capita pork consumption in the first quarter of 2005 went down about 4.3 percent, while cold storage stocks increased by 59.8 million pounds. Pork exports were up by 73.2 million pounds and pork imports were down by 14.6 million pounds. Pork production for the 90-day period was up by 5 million pounds. The total reduction in pork consumption for the period was 165.6 million pounds.

The total domestic consumption was reduced by 3.3 percent and population probably grew about 1 percent that resulted in about a 4.3 percent decline in consumption per capita.

Retail pork prices were up by 5.1 percent but they needed to be up 8.7 percent to compensate for the reduced consumption and a 3 percent inflation to hold demand level.

However the prices faced by producers for live hogs were up 17.9 percent and pork production was up 0.1 percent from a year earlier that resulted in a 3.1 percent gain in live hog demand.

The data indicates the decline in demand was due mostly to reduced consumption but possibly some substitution for a lower price protein. Broiler consumption was up 2.4 percent for the period compared to a year earlier.

The reduced consumption is consistent with the belief that a significant portion of the 2004 demand growth was due to the high-protein, low-carb diets. The $2 plus gasoline prices this year also may be a factor.

Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, agricultural economists, University of Missouri