Ron Plain, University of Missouri
Ron Plain, University of Missouri

Although December retail pork prices slipped 5.1 cents from November, favorable slaughter trends and robust U.S. pork exports will team up to support hog prices in 2013, according to Ron Plain, University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist.

Hog slaughter is running slightly below expectations as are slaughter weights, Plain says. “Since December 1, slaughter of U.S.-raised barrows and gilts has been down about 0.1 percent and slaughter weights were down slightly also which are supportive for hog prices.” He expects 2013 hog prices to average above those of 2012 but below prices seen in 2011.

Despite the slightly lower domestic pork demand seen in December, Plain says pork’s appeal may increase among budget-conscious consumers. “Tight supplies of competing meats and record retail beef prices also should help pork demand,” he says.

Plain expects 2013 hog slaughter will be up very slightly from the 2012 level but still below 2008 and 2009. Hog slaughter in 2012 was the third highest recorded after 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, U.S. pork exports, which are expected to set a new record for 2012, provide ever-increasing support for hog prices. Through November 2012, pork exports are 5 percent ahead of 2011’s record pace in terms of value and are expected to eclipse $6 billion in 2012. Pork exports account for about 27 percent of U.S. production and contribute about $56.00 for each hog sold, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.