Pork Production Dipped Slightly During Polar Vortex

Cold weather kept many producers from moving and selling hogs last week. ( PORK )

It’s clear the Polar Vortex had an impact on pork production after a very hot start to the year, says Dustin Baker, director of economics and domestic production issues at the National Pork Producers Council.

USDA AMS reported total red meat production under federal inspection last week was 1 billion pounds, coming in 2.5% lower than a year ago. Pork production, at 509.3 million pounds, was 4.6% lower than the previous week and 2.2% lower than year-ago levels. Year-to-date pork production is 0.7% higher.

Live weights were steady at 286 lb. while dressed weights were slightly lower year-over-year at 213 lb. The pork carcass cutout fell by a dollar last week and is 18% lower year-over-year. Loins, the largest contributor to the cutout, gained slightly but remain 6% lower compared to last year while hams and bellies are both 23% lower year-over-year. At $115/cwt., bellies are at their lowest levels since late November 2018, Baker says.

The dangerous cold also caused some packers to close Wednesday and Thursday for employee and animal safety. Tyson Foods’ Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant canceled two shifts and Hormel Foods Corp. stopped hog slaughter in Austin, Minn., Thursday.

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