Pork’s value at the supermarket continues to move higher. March’s retail pork prices were the second highest on record in nominal dollars, according to Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economists.

March prices rose 5 percent from a year earlier and retail prices for the first three months of the year increased 5.1 percent from the same time period in 2000. The rise in retail pork price is that much more impressive when you consider that pork production is down only about 1 percent.

Pork producers, processors and retailers have shared the profits. For January through March live hog prices were about 4 percent higher this year than last year. Retail margins increased almost 8 percent but the packers’ margins were down 3 percent from 12 months earlier. The higher retail prices reflect strong consumer demand for pork products.

While retail prices remain strong, cold storage reports indicate that frozen pork stocks are down 18 percent from last year. This means retail stores have been able to move more pork products at a higher price, which is a reflection of a strong demand, notes Grimes and Plain.

Looking into the summer, pork sales are expected to benefit from tightening beef supplies that will push beef retail prices higher.