U.S. livestock: Hogs rally again on pork prices, supply woes

June live cattle rise to even with June hogs

CME June 2021 lean hogs (candlesticks) with 20-day moving average (pink line) and June 2021 live cattle (dark red line). (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures extended a sharp rally on Wednesday, touching contract highs for the fourth consecutive day on limited supplies and strong pork prices.

U.S. pork demand is strong as sales have benefited after households received additional COVID-19 pandemic relief money from the federal government, analysts said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture pork cutout value edged up by 73 cents, to $111.91/cwt for carcasses, with gains in ribs, butts, hams and bellies used to make bacon (all figures US$).

Supplies of hogs to meet the demand for pork are tight, after some farmers euthanized hogs or performed abortions on pregnant sows last year as slaughterhouses closed during COVID-19 outbreaks among workers.

Outbreaks of a pig disease known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) have also limited the size of the herd, analysts said.

CME most-active June lean hogs set a new contract high of 114.575 cents/lb. and settled up 0.875 cent at 114.425 cents/lb. July hogs set a contract high for the fourth consecutive day and ended up 1.05 cents at 114.475 cents/lb.

June live cattle futures jumped 1.4 cents to end even with June hogs at 114.425 cents/lb., an extremely rare occurrence. August feeder cattle futures climbed 2.05 cents to 145.225 cents/lb.

Export demand remains robust for U.S. pork and beef, though analysts said high prices and shortages of shipping containers are limiting factors.

March U.S. pork exports were record-large at 294,724 tonnes, up one per cent from a year earlier, according to the industry group U.S. Meat Export Federation, following the release of monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Exports also set a new value record at $794.9 million, which was up four per cent, the federation said.

Traders on Thursday will review weekly USDA export sales data for pork and beef.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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