Spring rally pushes pigs higher in USA

By Joanna Levin

LIVE pig prices jumped this week as the seasonal spring rally got underway. Cash bids topped 40¢/lb for the first time this year compared with around 38-39¢/lb a week ago.

The upward trend continued yesterday (Tuesday) with reported prices as high as 42¢/lb for 220-270lb animals. Strong domestic wholesale demand for pork products is supporting the market, as are reports of South Korean buying interest in bellies.

Traders warn that the slaughter rate will have to slow down to enable the market to hang on to its gains. But higher prices are tempting farmers to bring pigs to market.

On Monday, pig slaughter under federal inspection totalled 358,000 head, unchanged from the previous week and sharply higher than the daily slaughter rate of 290,000 head this time last year.

On the Chicago futures market, contracts for lean pigs were pulled higher by higher prices. The June lean hogs contract closed on Monday (4 May) at 61.5¢/lb, up almost a cent on the previous week and up 5.5¢ on mid-March when the latest rally began.

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