There were several reasons for the price run-up. Of course, hog slaughter declines seasonally as late spring arrives. Packer margins also have tightened, and producers have been reducing marketing weights. In early May, live-hog weights in the Iowa/Minnesota market averaged 4 pounds lighter than the year before. Lighter slaughter weights mean less pork on the market.

Exports also have helped lighten the pork supply. U.S. pork exports’ best six months ever have been the last six months. In first quarter 2008, pork production was 11.9 percent higher than January/March 2007.  Thanks to higher exports and lower imports, the pork supply on the U.S. market was up only 6 percent.