Butcher Hogs Prices Below 2017

US butcher hog prices are below last year and appear to be ready to follow 2017 trends, albeit at a lower price level.

US butcher hog prices are struggling along with the pork cutout as year-to-date pork production advances, and they may have trouble holding last year’s and 2012-2016 average levels, according to USDA Market News data.  Expected increases in demand may have trouble keeping up with forecast gains in production.




Until two weeks ago, barrow and gilt prices were holding above year-earlier levels, even if they were below the previous five-year average.

Last week’s average butcher hog price was $68.55 per cwt, down $4.76, or 6.49%, from $73.31 a year earlier and down $8.39, or 10.9%, from the 2012-2016 average of $76.94.

Price pressure can be tied to increased production that is catching up with the market.  The USDA’s Market News reports that 2018 year-to-date pork production already is up 2.5% from a year earlier’s 3.93 billion pounds at 4.028 billion.

In addition, the USDA World Outlook Board’s February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report pegged 2018 pork production at 26.885 billion pounds, up 1.304 billion, or 5.10%, from the 2017 output of 25.581 billion.

It looks like prices this year are starting to follow the 2017 trend by starting the year moving higher and then turning lower.  The difference is that this year’s first-quarter peak occurred earlier than last year.

If that trend follows this year, a seasonal bottom should be reached before the last week of April when it happened last year.  It should also be at a level below last year’s late-April bottom of $60.08 per cwt.

However, if demand suddenly picks up to overtake the expected supply, then a price trend that resembles the 2012-2016 average seems more likely.




If slaughter hog prices are to keep up with last year, the pork cutout price may have to show more consistency.  So far, the value has been up and down but remaining below the 2012-2016 average.

Last week’s average estimated pork cutout was $79.00 per cwt, down $3.48, or 4.22%, from $82.48 in the same week last year and down $3.61, or 4.37%, from the previous five-year average of $82.61.

But at no point this year has the weekly average pork cutout been above the 2012-2016 average, and with production rising, it could be hard to make it above the average line.

Hog producers, however, can count on a midyear boost in pork cutout and slaughter barrow and gilt prices.  Whether this annual boost can equal last year or the average remains to be seen.




Fed cattle sold Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange Video Auction at $126 per cwt.

Cash trading this week was at $126 to $127 per cwt on a live basis, down $1.  Dressed-basis trade was steady at $204 to $205.

The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was up $0.51 per cwt at $221.03, while select was up $0.31 at $215.10.  The choice/select spread widened to $5.93 from $5.73 with 80 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Tuesday, was $147.94 per cwt, up $0.18.  This compares with Wednesday’s Mar settlement of $144.75, down $1.80.