Expectations are that the weak U.S. economy will boost domestic pork demand as a cheaper alternative to beef. Consequently, hog markets rose, while cattle futures fell.

On yesterday's wholesale market, pork was nearly 97 cents a pound less than wholesale beef. That's the biggest discount in 19 months, according to USDA data. Bloomberg News reports that U.S. meatpackers sold 5.1 million pounds of pork yesterday, the most in a week, while beef sales were 2.8 million pounds, a one-month low.

"Pork really is the cheapest meat out there,'' says Christian Mayer, a market adviser at Northstar "Whenever you struggle in the stock market, you struggle with the cattle market, especially here lately,'' Mayer notes. "People are so concerned with having money. If you have money you can buy steaks. If you don't, you have people trying to get by on cheaper meat if they can.''

Commodity Investments LLC in Minneapolis. "When we're seeing the economic problems that we're having, people tend to go with what's cheaper. That should increase (pork) demand.'' That's good news for the hog complex as the strengthening U.S. dollar has slowed export sales.

U.S. meatpackers shipped 70.3 truckloads of beef yesterday, the lowest amount since Oct. 13, according to USDA data. Pork shipments totaled 127.8 truckloads, the most since Nov. 4. Each load of beef and pork weighs 40,000 pounds (18,140 kilograms).

Source: Bloomberg.com