Ron Plain and Scott Brown
University of Missouri
Pork cutout values continued their descent from the mid-July record highs, with today's cutout value at $126.98/cwt FOB the plants, down $5.89 from last Friday and $10.89 off of the record level from two weeks ago. The cutout is still $23.31 above a year ago. All primal cuts with the exception of hams declined for the week, with bellies dropping the most.
Hog prices also fell again this week, with the national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on today's morning report at $116.91/cwt. This is down $5.73 from last week, but still up $23.54 vs. a year ago. The western corn belt averaged $117.87 this morning, and Iowa-Minnesota averaged $116.98/cwt. There was no quote for the eastern corn belt. Peoria had a top live price today of $86/cwt. The top price for interior Missouri live hogs was $85.25/cwt. This morning's hog carcass price equaled 92.1% of the pork cutout value.
Another week without any signs of widespread deterioration of the nation's corn crop sent corn futures down. The September corn futures contract closed at $3.52 per bushel today, a decline of 11 cents for the week. Even though hog prices have backed off in recent days, declining corn prices continue to imply record or near-record profitability levels for most producers.
The preliminary July hog to corn feed price ratio was reported at 24.4, the highest level since August 2006. This not only more than doubles the 11.7 average posted from 2007-2013, it is well above the 20.9 average from 2000-2006. These are indeed historic times for the U.S. hog industry.
Hog slaughter totaled 1.867 million head this week, up a slight 0.3% from the week before, but down 7.9% from the same week last year. Hog slaughter thus far in 2014 is trailing last year's level by 4.8%.
The average live slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 283.7 pounds. That was down 1.1 pounds from the week before, but 13.3 pounds heavier than the same week last year. Producers continue to add weight to hogs to make up for lower slaughter totals, and this was the 11th consecutive week with weights at least 10 pounds heavier than a year ago.
The number of new positive PEDv cases continued its downtrend last week, with 79 new positive tests equaling the fewest number of new cases identified in any week since late October 2013. The industry continues to prepare for the possibility that the number of new cases will again accelerate in late fall and winter when colder temperatures reappear.
Hog futures were lower on the week. The August hog futures contract ended the week at $118.02/cwt, down $5.60 from the previous Friday. October hogs lost $4.45 this week to close at $102.82/cwt. The December contract ended the week at $94.40/cwt down $3.75 for the week. The February lean hog contract settled at $90.60/cwt.