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Retail pork prices improve from January but decline from last year 
 
The average retail price of pork in grocery stores during February was $3.441 per pound. That is up 3.9 cents from January, but down 5.4 cents from February 2012. The monthly retail price record for pork is $3.561 per pound set in September 2011.
The average live price for 51-52 percent lean hogs in February was $61.59 per cwt. That was up 37 cents from January, but down $2.35 from February 2012.

USDA will release their March Hogs and Pigs survey results next Thursday afternoon (March 28). I’m expecting them to say the breeding herd is up 1.2 percent and the market hog inventory is up 0.8 percent compared to March of 2012. I expect farrowing intentions for spring to be less than last year, but summer 2013 farrowing intentions to be up compared to last summer. USDA’s March acreage planting intentions report will also be released on March 28.

It appears that Congress is about to pass a spending bill for the rest of this fiscal year which will avoid the need to furlough meat inspectors.

The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report Friday was $68.42 per cwt., down $4.43 from last Friday and under $70 per cwt., for the first time since September. The Eastern Corn Belt average price on the morning report Friday (March 22) was $68.53 per cwt. Neither the Western Corn Belt nor Iowa-Minnesota had enough hog sales for a morning price quote.

Peoria, Ill., had a live top of $49 per cwt., on Friday, March 22. Zumbrota, Minn., topped at $50 per cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs Friday (March 22) was $52.75 per cwt., down 75 cents from the previous Friday.

After three weeks of decline, Thursday afternoon’s (March 21) calculated pork cutout value was $77.85 per cwt., up 31 cents from the previous Thursday (March 14), but down $1.97 compared to last week last year. Loin and butt prices were higher, but hams lower last week. The national average hog carcass price Friday morning (March 22) was 87.9 percent of the cutout value. That should be low enough to boost hog prices the next week, if the pork cutout value doesn’t decline.

Hog slaughter last week totaled 2.176 million head, down 1.2 percent from the previous week, but up 2.1 percent compared to the same week last year. The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 270.0 pounds, up 0.1 pound from a week earlier, but down 0.3 pound from the same week last year. Year-to-date hog slaughter is down 1.1 percent and pork production is down 1.7 percent.

Friday’s close (March 22) for the April lean hog futures contract was $78.05 per cwt., down $1.62 from the previous Friday. May hog futures ended the week $1 lower at $88.20 per cwt. June hogs gained 40 cents this week to settle at $89.72 per cwt., on Friday (March 22). July hog futures ended the week at $89.80 per cwt. Corn futures ended the week a bit higher than the previous Friday.

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.
3/27/2013