Retail pork prices in June increased by 2.5 percent from May, says Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economist. June prices were 7 percent higher than June 2003 prices. Retail pork prices for the first six months of this year were up 4.4 percent from the same time period last year.

Producers were able to capture more of the consumer dollar than the increase in retail prices. Based on the USDA data the processors and retail margins were 3.4 percent less than the months in 2003 and the packers margin was down 3.4 percent for this period compared to last year.

For the first six months of the year, 51-52 percent live lean hogs were up nearly 27 percent for the same period in 2003.

The strong prices are a function of demand, because hog supplies continue to be large. Hog slaughter last week was estimated at 1.892 million head. Prior to the week ending July 17, there had never been a weekly slaughter of 1.9 million head under Federal Inspection in July, says Plain.