Hog Outlook: Retail pork prices lower

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Retail pork prices averaged $3.478 per pound during November. That was 0.6 cents lower than in October and 3.3 cents lower than in November 2011.

The national average live price for 51-52% lean barrows and gilts in November was $57.67/cwt. That was $1.39 lower than in October and $5.73 lower than In November 2011. Hogs prices this year are the second highest ever, but because of record feed costs this has been a very unprofitable year for producers. Carcass price will average close to $82/cwt and losses will average above $10 per head.

Next Friday, USDA will publish the results of their December hog inventory survey. I'm predicting they will say the breeding herd is 0.9% smaller than a year ago and the market hog inventory is 0.7% smaller than on December 1, 2011.

The first major snow storm of the winter hit the Midwest this week disrupting hog movement late in the week. Thursday's hog slaughter was only 344,000 head, down 89 thousand from the week before.

The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $78.74/cwt, up 18 cents from last Friday. The western corn belt was $3.78 lower than last Friday at $78.72/cwt. Neither the eastern corn belt nor Iowa-Minnesota had a morning price quote today. Peoria had no Friday hog sales report. Zumbrota had a live top today of $53/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs Friday was $57.00/cwt, down 75 cents from the previous Friday.

The Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $81.90/cwt, down $1.93 from the previous Thursday. As is typical of mid December, ham prices took a big hit losing 10% of their value during the week. Loins and butts are higher. The pork cutout value is $5.27/cwt lower than a year ago.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.348 million head, up 1.9% from the week before and up 8.9% compared to the same week last year. The national average hog carcass price is 96.1% of the cutout value, which is high for this time of year. Because of Christmas, hog slaughter will be very light next week.

The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 273.6 pounds, 1.3 pounds below a week earlier and down 1.6 pounds from a year ago. This was the twelfth consecutive week with weights under the year-ago level.

Year-to-date hog slaughter is up 2.0% while pork production is up 2.1%.

Friday's close for the February lean hog futures contract was $86.90/cwt, up $1.50 from the previous Friday. April hog futures ended the week $1.22 higher at $91.62/cwt. May hogs settled at $98.70/cwt; June at $100.65/cwt.

Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown



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