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U.S. pork exports boast record highs last year
 
U.S. pork exports in 2012 were record high for the second consecutive year. Last year, the nation exported 5.4 billion pounds of pork and imported only 802 million pounds. Pork imports were the lowest since 1998. The top seven foreign destinations for U.S. pork were Japan, Mexico, China, Canada, South Korea, Russia, and Australia, respectively.

Canada was the source for 78 percent of our pork imports with 9 percent coming from Denmark. Pork exports equaled a record 23.15 percent of U.S. production. Pork imports equaled 3.53 percent of production, the lowest since 1981.

The value of U.S. pork exports last year was a record $5.46 billion. The value of pork variety meats was a record $867 million. We exported an average of $48.21 worth of pork and $7.66 of pork byproducts for each hog slaughtered in the U.S. in 2012.
Live hog imports in 2012 were down 2.5 percent from the year before. In total, 5.65 million hogs were imported from Canada, the fewest since 2001. An additional 30 head were imported from other countries. 85 percent of live hog imports were feeder or weaner pigs. The U.S. exported 55,059 live hogs last year with Mexico and China being the top two destinations.

Russia has stopped importing U.S. beef and pork because we use ractopamine as a feed additive.

It was another tough week for packers with hog carcass prices staying above the pork cutout value. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $81.10 per cwt., down $4.36 cents from last Friday. The Eastern Corn Belt averaged $81.12 per cwt., this morning. The Western Corn Belt and Iowa-Minnesota both averaged $80.78 per cwt., on the morning price report.

Peoria, Ill., had a live top of $54 per cwt., last Friday and Zumbrota, Minn., topped at $56.50. The top for interior Missouri live hogs last Friday was $58.50 per cwt., down $5.25 from the previous Friday.
Thursday (Feb. 14) afternoon’s calculated pork cutout value was $80.10 per cwt., down $1.59 from the previous Thursday, down $4.94 from two weeks ago, and down $6.22 from this week last year. Belly prices are steady with a week earlier, but loins, hams, and butts are lower. The national average hog carcass price Friday morning (Feb. 15) is 101.2 percent of the cutout value. Look for lower hog prices to start next week.

Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.145 million head, up 0.3 percent from last week, but down 0.3 percent compared to the same week last year.

The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 275.7 pounds, up 1.7 pounds from a week earlier but down 0.2 pound from a year ago.

Friday’s (Feb. 15) close for the April lean hog futures contract was $84.25 per cwt., down $1.87 from the previous Friday. May hog futures ended the week $1.88 lower at $91.62 per cwt. June hogs lost $1.55 last week to settle at $92.95 per cwt., today (Friday, Feb. 15). July hog futures ended the week at $92.85 per cwt. Corn and soybean meal futures both ended last week lower than last.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Ron Plain or Scott Brown may write to them in care of this publication.
2/21/2013