Market prices dropped to the mid-$20 per hundredweight range due to a combination of factors, all of which were negative, says Steve Meyer, National Pork Board director of economics. “I would not characterize this as a hog supply or a pork demand problem,” says Meyer.

Meyer listed a number of factors he believes contributed to the sudden price decline including:

  • Near-record production of all meats this year- up 2.6 percent from the same period in 2001.
  • Record high dressed weights for cattle, poultry and hogs- due primarily to a mild winter.
  • The Japanese safeguard tariff that was in place until March 31, plus Japanese holidays this week, which have resulted in reduced exports to Japan in 2002.
  • Cessation of poultry trade with Russia from March 1 until April 15, when Russian officials authorized the resumption of U.S. poultry purchases.
  • The earliest Easter in 11 years, which put any additional demand for hams further from normal summer seasonal pork demand increases.

Meyer said most of the factors helping to create the recent price decline are outside the control of pork producers and the demand-enhancing programs of the National Pork Board.

Dallas Hockman, vice president of demand enhancement says retail promotions aimed at the grilling season should help to stimulate demand for pork, including the “Where There’s Pork, There’s Fire” campaign that assists retailers in promoting pork products for outdoor grilling.

“We’re not seeing any retailers backing off their plans to promote pork right now,” says Hockman. “But with abundant supplies and low prices for beef and poultry, there is bound to be some substitution. We’re sticking to our plans, which also include extra emphasis on fall checkoff promotions, such as ‘The Other Tailgate Party.’”