By Bruce Cochrane
Reduced U.S. hog slaughter numbers due to PED coupled with strong demand for pork are expected to result in continued record live hog prices throughout the third quarter of 2014.
Dramatic losses of baby pigs in the U.S. due to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea has resulted in reduced hog slaughter numbers propelling live hog prices to record levels this spring.
Dr. Ron Plain, an agricultural economics professor with the University of Missouri, notes the three most profitable months ever for U.S. pork producers were March, April and May and he expects those prices to hold throughout the summer.
Dr. Ron Plain-University of Missouri:
USDA's June inventory survey said there was 5.1 percent fewer market hogs in June this year compared to 2013.
That implies five percent or so reduced slaughter coming at us in the second half of this year.
That should keep these hog prices at record levels.
In fact there's a fairly good chance we'll take out the all time record high which was set right back at the end of March of this year.
Demand is looking very good.
We're up year over year in exports of pork so foreign demand continues to do well.
The world economy is doing well and, when people have more money, it tends to boost meat demand.
In the United States we've seen an increase in domestic demand for pork.
One of the things is the beef supply is very tight and we're looking at record grocery store prices for beef and that makes pork, even though it's at record levels, look like something of a bargain compared to beef prices.
Dr. Plain says those hog farms that have avoided PED and have their full production to sell are doing the best while, for those that have struggled with virus, the higher prices are being largely offset by fewer hogs to sell.
He says those who do a good job on herd health will be in the best position to take advantage of these higher prices.