The most recent retail price data available shows that pork prices set all-time highs in July and then again in August. In July, the pork retail price was $3.63 per pound —compared with $3.43 in July 2012— and $3.76 per pound in August, compared with 3.53 in August 2012. In both July and August, the total farm-to-retail spread widened considerably compared with a year earlier.

The July 2013 total spread was $2.38, compared with $2.23 a year earlier; the August total spread was $2.54 compared with $2.43 a year earlier. In each case, while both components of the total spread widened—wholesale-to-retail component and the farm-to-wholesale component—the wholesale-to-retail component increased the most, meaning that some portion of increased total supply chain costs was passed along to consumers.

It is possible that record-high retail beef prices emboldened retailers to increase pork prices, on the assumption that even if they raised pork prices, consumers who treat beef and pork as substitute goods would still pay less per pound for pork than for beef.

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report