Meat & Livestock News

Seasonal and Weather Challenges Impact Pork Market, Says DLR Report

Market Disruptions

The pork market has recently faced significant disruptions, primarily due to seasonal slowdowns and severe winter weather, as per the Daily Livestock Report’s latest analysis. These disruptions have led to closures of processing plants and transportation difficulties, impacting both workforce availability and logistics.

Slaughter Rates and Supply

In the week ending January 13, there was a notable 19% drop in USDA-reported hog slaughter, falling to 2.174 million head compared to the same week last year. This decrease in slaughter rates prompted processing plants to raise their bids for replacement loads.

During these weeks of disruption, hog carcass weights averaged around 217 pounds, nearing the annual upper limit. The high slaughter rates combined with heavy-weight hogs resulted in an oversupply of pork, contributing to lower prices in December. In the weeks ending December 23, December 30, and January 6, the average hog slaughter was 2.340 million head per week, a decrease of 343,000 head from late November and early December figures.

Price Fluctuations Across Categories

The impact of these market conditions varied across different pork categories. The belly market, especially pork belly primal, saw a significant increase, surging by $40/cwt (41%) since January 3. This rise contributed to a 9% overall increase in the value of the pork cutout during this period. In contrast, the ham primal category experienced a decline of about 5%, possibly due to transportation issues affecting exports. The picnic primal category also saw an 8% decrease.

However, pork trim prices recorded an 11% increase, reflecting the supply shortfall and the pressing need for processors to meet production demands.

Outlook and Recommendations

The analysis anticipates a gradual recovery in pork supply. However, it cautions that these challenges highlight the need for vigilance among end-users, especially as spring and summer approach. It is unlikely that slaughter rates will maintain the elevated levels seen recently.