Strong wholesale pork prices continue to support hog prices

U.S. pork exports for 2024 increased to 7.362 billion pounds as Europe’s share in world markets continues to diminish.

Ann Hess, Content Director

June 26, 2024

3 Min Read
National Pork Board

Last month most hog and pork products in the supply chain sold at year-over-year higher prices, as estimated federally inspected pork production was virtually unchanged from a year ago and more hogs were slaughtered. According to the USDA Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook for June 2024, estimated FI hog slaughter was 10.5 million head, while estimated FI dressed weights appeared to hold steady, offsetting the lower-than-expected number of slaughtered hogs.

USDA ERS Agricultural Economist Mildred Haley and author of the report notes, “Estimated FI dressed weight data suggests that current weights are moving counter-seasonally, that is, dressed weights seem to have not yet begun their usual seasonal decline. Dressed weights typically begin to decline as temperature increases cause hogs to lose their appetites and eat less, slowing weight gain. Current 2024 dressed weight data … shows average FI dressed weights not only beginning to exceed year-ago values in the second week of May–but also not yet beginning to slope negatively into the June weeks (weeks 23–26), as in previous years.”

Iowa State University’s Estimated Returns for Iowa Farrow-to-Finish operations also displayed positive returns in both April (+$11.92 per head) and in May (+$17.06 /head). Prices for live equivalent 51-52% lean hogs in April averaged $64.83 per cwt, up 25.4% from April 2023. May prices averaged $66.16 per cwt, a 19.53% increase from the year prior, and through the week of June 7, hog prices averaged $66.48, 11% higher than a year ago.

“The likely factors holding spring 2024 average dressed hog weights above year-ago levels include hog prices that are looking considerably better than last spring as well as lower feed prices,” Haley states. “It is likely profitable for some producers to add weight to hogs, given costs of gain.”

Wholesale pork prices last month supported hog prices, which also likely contributed to higher dressed weights. “Higher prices for bellies, loins and ribs accounted for most of the higher value of the wholesale pork carcass in May. Through June 7, the wholesale value of the pork carcass was $100.82, more than 16% higher than in the same period a year ago. As wholesale prices remain year-over-year higher in response to relatively higher prices of competing proteins, late spring–summer weight declines are likely to be delayed as hog numbers decline seasonally.”

Q2 hog prices are anticipated to average $66 per cwt, a 16% jump in prices from the same period last year. Third-quarter prices were reduced to $68 per cwt, a 2% decrease from the year prior. The fourth-quarter forecast—$56 per cwt—is expected to be almost 5% above 2023.

USDA forecasts second-quarter pork production to be 6.7 billion pounds, 2% higher than a year earlier. This is due to a slightly higher December–February pig crop, as well as expectations for higher estimated dressed weights.

U.S. pork exports for 2024 were increased 100 million pounds to 7.362 billion pounds, an 8% jump from the year prior, as Europe’s share in the world's pork export markets continues to weaken.

U.S. pork exports in April were 656 million pounds, 13% higher than a year ago, due largely to strong shipments to Mexico. Year-over-year, exports increased to Japan by 5%, to South Korea by 24%, and to Australia by 28%.

“U.S. pork exports to these markets remain competitive against EU exports despite appreciation of the U.S. dollar against major trading partners, as indicated in the nominal broad dollar index in April. The latest European data available (March) show lower (EU) exports to both Japan and South Korea,” Haley notes.

About the Author(s)

Ann Hess

Content Director, National Hog Farmer

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