Pork producer margins remain on the plus-side of the ledger, but profits dropped to $8.82 per head for the week ending April 27. That’s $5.44 per head lower than the week before when margins for farrow-to-finish producers had turned higher and came in at $14.29 per head. Margins for the same week in 2011, were $26.81 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Overall, costs ran nearly $10 lower than one year ago.

Packer margins held nearly steady, reporting a $12.04-per-head loss for the last week in April. The previous week packers reported an $11.67-per-head loss. Looking back at the last week in April 2011, packer margins were slipping dramatically, reporting a meager profit of $0.88 per head.

Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices closed April at steady $82.49 per hundredweight, $10 less than in 2011. Pork cutout values were $77.11 versus $92.41 for the week in 2011, 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 27:

• Average farrow-to-finish margins: $8.82 per head
• Average pork packer margins: -$12.04 per head

Cattle feeding margins continue to erode among demand challenges including the lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) issues and more recently the California BSE case involving a dairy cow.  The Sterling Beef Tracker reports margins for the week ending April 28 falling another $17.26 per head, with losses at $107.33 versus $90.07 the week before. For the same period in 2011, feeder profits were $211.84 per head.  

Packer margins continued to post a recovery last week, with packers reporting a profit for the first time in a long time at $6.07 per head. That compares with the week before at $45.74. For the same week in 2011, packers were losing $16.68 per head.

Cash fed cattle prices slipped $2.52 per hundredweight to $118.63. That’s also nearly $2 better than the same time last year when prices were $116.87 per hundredweight.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 28:

• Average feedyard margins: -$107.33 per head
• Average packer margins: $6.07 per head
• Sterling Profit Quotient: -322.1.

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.