Following two weeks in the red, pork producers’ margins turned positive again. As of the week ending May 18, average margins for farrow-to-finish producers came in at $7.49 per head. Packer margins, however, gave back nearly $5 per head in recent gains.

According to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore., pork producers moved from a $4.02-per-head loss to a $7.49 profit by the close of last week. That falls substantially short of margins obtained for the same week in 2011 at $28.84 per head, but it’s a trend in the right direction.

Pork packer margins on the other hand, had been on a recovery track but lost $4.88 per head on the week ending May 18, closing it out with a $5.05-per-head loss. That compares with a 17-cent loss the week before and a $2.62-per-head profit one year ago.

Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices rose on the week, reported at $84.27 per hundredweight, compared to $78.96 for the previous week and $95.23 last year. Pork cutout values continued to move higher, reported at $84.27 versus $79.32 a week earlier.

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 May 18:

• Average farrow-to-finish margins: $7.49 per head
• Average pork packer margins: -$5.05 per head

Cattle feeding margins continue to climb out of their long stretch of losses. While still reported at a loss, of $17.40 per head for the week ending May 19, that’s a significant improvement over the previous week at a $61.89-per-head loss.  For the same week a year ago, feeders were making a $22.88-per-head profit.

Beef packer margins remain in the black, but gave back some of their recent gains. Profit margins for the week ending May 19 were reported at $5.47 per head. For the previous week, packers were reporting a $13.49-per-head profit. The mid-May week in 2011, tallied a profit margin of $20.83 per head.

Cash fed cattle prices crept up slightly at $122.72 per hundredweight, compared with $119.90 the week before and $107.68 for the same week in 2011.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending May 19:

• Average feedyard margins: -$17.40 per head
• Average packer margins: $5.47 per head
• Sterling Profit Quotient: -51.1.

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.