Cash Hog Prices Inch Higher Last Week

   The average retail price of pork was $3.76 per pound in March. That was up 2.2 cents from the month before, but down 11.4 cents from a year ago. March grocery store prices for pork were the second lowest since June. The March average price for bacon at retail was $5.494 per pound. Boneless pork chops averaged $4.146/lb and boneless hams averaged $4.07/lb.
   The average live price of 51-52 percent lean slaughter hogs was $46.95/cwt in March. That was 34 cents higher than the month before and $1.34 higher than in March 2015.
   The final livestock slaughter numbers for 2015 were released this week. Commercial hog slaughter totaled 115,425,200 head, up 8 percent from the year before, but 0.9 percent below the record set in 2008. Commercial pork production was a record 24.5013 billion pounds. That was 7.3 percent more than the year before and 5.4 percent more than the old record set in 2012. The average dressed weight for barrows and gilts in 2015 was 210 pounds, down 2 pounds from the year before.
   USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report says that 13 percent of corn acres have been planted. That compares to 4 percent a week ago and 7 percent on this date last year. The five year average is 8 percent planted by April 17.
   Cash hog prices were higher this week. The national negotiated barrow and gilt carcass price averaged $65.32/cwt on Thursday, up $3.16 from a week earlier and up $2.32 from a year ago. The national negotiated barrow and gilt price averaged $63.78/cwt on the morning report today, up $3.28 from a week earlier. There were no regional negotiated price quotes this morning for the eastern corn belt, western corn belt, or Iowa-Minnesota.
   The top hog price today at Peoria was $40/cwt, up $2 from last Friday. The top price for interior Missouri live hogs was $44.25/cwt, up $1.50 from a week ago.
   Friday morning’s pork cutout value was $78.67/cwt FOB the plants. That is up 45 cents from the week before and up $9.29 from a year ago. Loin and ham prices were higher this week; but bellies were sharply lower. This morning’s national negotiated hog price was 81.1 percent of the cutout value.
   This week’s hog slaughter was 2.241 million head, up 2.0 percent from last week and up 3.5 percent from the same week last year.
   The average slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 284.1 pounds, down 0.3 pound from the week before, but up 0.6 pound from a year ago.
   The May hog futures contract gained $1.30 this week to close at $75.70/cwt. The June lean hog futures contract ended the week at $78.825/cwt, up $1.20 from the preceding Friday. Today, July hogs settled at $79.475/cwt.
   The May corn futures contract settled at $3.7175 per bushel today. That is down 6.75 cents from last week. July corn ended the week at $3.755/bu., down 6.5 cents from last Friday. ∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri
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