Pork market looks to improve by spring

(Gloria Solano-Aguilar photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada — Canadian pork prices are feeling a modest bump upward as healthy U.S. exports clean up some excess North American pork supplies.

Canadian slaughter-weight prices hit their lows in November and December — and since then, they have increased about 30 per cent, according to Brad Marceniuk, a livestock economist for Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry in Saskatoon.

“We have had a nice rebound since late December, early January,” he said.

He described pork cutout values as “reasonable” right now, with an average price of $176/cwt.

Some futures prices are also drawing higher bids than the spot price, which suggests increased demand is slowly approaching, he added.

For instance, he said, the April lean futures contract is $5/cwt higher than the cash price, while the June lean hog futures contract is $15 higher than the cash price.

“So overall numbers look they should creep higher into spring,” he said.

While U.S. exports haven’t necessarily increased in price due to currency issues, he said they have definitely surged in volume over the past few months.

U.S. hogs slaughtered under federal inspection for the week ending Saturday were estimated at 2.294 million head, up 0.6 per cent from 2.281 million the previous week, and up 0.9 per cent from 2.274 million in the same week a year ago.

“This helped clean up some of the supplies that were on hand,” said Marceniuk.

One other encouraging note, he said, is that U.S. pork exports to China have also increased over the past few months relative to last year.

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow CNS Canada at @CNSCanada on Twitter.

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