Pork producer margins, while still on the plus-side, dropped $2.44 per head last week. Meanwhile, packer margins continue to decline, falling $2.76 per head for the week ending April 6, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker.  

For farrow-to-finish producers, profit margins ended last week at $9.68 per head, which compares to $27.76 per head for the same period one year ago. Of course, exports were hot around this time in 2011 as U.S. pork supplies moved into earth-quake-ravaged Japan, and shipments to South Korea increased to replenish supplies reduced by a previous foot-and-mouth disease break.   

Losses continue to weigh on pork packers, with margins down $10 per head for the week ending April 6.  The previous week reported a $7.24 per head loss, and that compares with a $9.02 per head profit one year ago.

Last week, Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices essentially held steady at $82.96 per hundredweight; last week’s prices averaged $82.92. Hog prices were nearly $3 per hundredweight higher a year ago, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

Sterling Marketing provides the Sterling Pork and Beef Profit Trackers, which are calculated using actual weekly prices for hogs and cattle, feed costs, pork and beef cutout prices, drop credits and other factors that influence profit margins.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending April 6:
• Average farrow-to-finish margins: $9.68 per head.
• Average pork packer margins: -$10 per head.

Cattle feeding margins took another big hit last week, with the Sterling Beef Tracker reporting a $58.73 per-head loss, compared with the previous week’s loss at $3.55, which started the downward trend.  

Packer margins crashed to a $112.10 per-head loss for the week of April 6. That compares to a $96.48 per head loss the week before, and a $3.82 profit for the same week in 2011.  Controversy surrounding lean, finely textured beef has not helped either the producer or packer margins.

Cash fed cattle traded at $121.73 hundredweight last week, down nearly $3 from the week before. A year ago, cattle feeders sold cash cattle at $122.72 per hundredweight.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 6:

• Average feedyard margins: -$58,73 per head.
• Average packer margins: -$112.10 per head.
• Sterling Profit Quotient: -206.0.

The Sterling Pork and Beef Profit Trackers are produced by Sterling Marketing Inc. and John Nalivka, president, Vale, Ore., and are published weekly by Pork Network.