Due in large part to a weak dollar, 2011 was a fantastic year for U.S. meat exports. Beef, pork, chicken, and turkey exports were each record high. In total, the U.S. exported over 15 billion pounds of red meat and poultry last year, up 10% from the 2008 record.

Pork exports totaled 5.2 billion pounds in 2011, 22.9% more than the year before and 11.6% above the old record set in 2008. Pork exports were 4.39 billion pounds greater than imports. In total, 2011 pork exports equaled 22.9% of U.S. pork production and imports equaled 3.5% of our production.

In 2011, the five biggest foreign customers of U.S. pork were Japan, Mexico, China, Canada, and South Korea, respectively. Together they purchased 80% of U.S. pork exports. The biggest growth market was China which bought 512 million pounds more U.S. pork than in 2010.

The value of pork exports, $5.3 billion, was up $1.2 billion (30%) compared to 2010. We exported a record $48 worth of pork and $7 worth of byproduct for each hog slaughtered in 2011.

U.S. pork imports during 2011 were down by 56 million pounds (6.5%) compared to 2010 and at the lowest level since 1998. The decrease in pork imports was due to a 55 million pound drop in pork coming from Canada. Canada and Denmark accounted for 79% and 10%, respectively, of 2011 U.S. pork imports.

Hog prices ended the week roughly $1 lower than the previous Friday. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $79.30/cwt, down $1.58 from last Friday. The western corn belt averaged $84.87 this morning and the eastern corn belt had a morning average of $78.47/cwt. There were not enough sales in Iowa-Minnesota for a morning price quote. Friday’s top live hog price at Peoria was $58.50/cwt. Zumbrota, had a top of $58/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs was $59.50/cwt, down $1.25 from the previous Friday.

USDA’s Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $86.32/cwt, up $1.50 from the previous Thursday. Loins, butts, bellies and hams were all higher. The western corn belt average hog price this morning was 98.3% of the pork cutout value.

Hog slaughter totaled 2.149 million head this week, up 0.9% from the week before and up 2.6% compared to the same week last year. Barrow and gilt carcass weights for the week ending February 4 averaged 205 pounds, down 1 pound from both the week before and a year ago. Iowa-Minnesota live weights for barrows and gilts last week averaged 275.9 pounds, up 0.5 pound from the previous week and up 3.0 pounds compared to a year earlier.