The pork cutout trended lower thru Mar/mid-Apr, before rebounding for wk ending Apr 20 at $0.68/lb, down 9% from 2017. Values were higher yr over yr for ribs ($1.25/lb., +5%) and butts ($0.88, +4%), and lower for hams ($0.55, -5%), loins ($0.69, -8%), picnics ($0.44, -15%), and belly ($0.91, -22%).

Bellies trended lower in Mar and dropped 17% for wk ending Apr 13th, and up 7% the next week, but remained down 22% from last yr, as larger production, slower seasonal interest, and buildup of cold storage stocks from last yr’s record lows kept prices below last yr’s high levels.

2018-04-statpork.jpgStrong exports have helped support butt prices, but other items have been pressured as cold weather in the U.S. hampered early spring grilling demand. Loins, tenderloins, bnls sirloins trended lower through March, but higher in mid-Apr. For wk ending Apr 20, values were higher yr-o-yr for St. Louis spareribs ($2.01, +5%) & bnls shoulder butts ($1.17, +1%); steady for spareribs ($1.31); & lower for tenderloins ($1.92, -2%), rollout bnls hams ($1.14, -2%), loins ($0.84, -7%), heavy B-In hams ($0.57, -7%), picnic cushion ($0.90, -11%), bnls sirloins ($0.91, -12%), and derind bellies ($1.72, -13%).

Cash hog prices were lower from Feb into April, with prices expected to trend seasonally higher in the late spring/summer and were $0.51/lb for wk ending Apr 14, down 15% yr-o-yr. Lean hog futures began trending higher in Apr after being lower since Feb (April 20 CME Lean Hog Futures closing contract prices with changes from Feb 15): May $69.95 (-$5.95), June $77.55 (-$2.65), July $80.03 (-$1.29), and Aug $79.58.

USDA released its quarterly Hogs & Pigs report (end of Mar): Mar 1, total inventory of hogs & pigs was record large for the quarter at 72.9 mill head, up 3%; market hog inventory was record large at 66.7 mill head, up 3%; pig crop was record large for Dec – Feb at 32.3 mill head, +3.8%, as increases in the breeding herd and a higher number of pigs saved per litter continue to lead to larger production.

U.S. pork production was up 2.6% in 2017 to a record 11.60 mill metric tons, and production is expected to set another record in 2018, with USDA’s April forecast at 12.16 mill metric tons, an increase of 4.8%. Through mid-April, production was up 3.6% from last year.