Steiner and Company produces the Profit Maximizer report on behalf of National Pork Board based on information we believe is accurate and reliable. However neither NPB nor Steiner and Company warrants or guarantees the accuracy of or accepts any liability for the data, opinions or recommendations expressed.


  • Belly prices collapsed late in the week, dropping almost 35% from the previous week. A big part of this was the big increase in slaughter but also higher prices at retail and seasonal decline in demand.
  • California demand will come more into focus in the fall as supplies seasonally increase and summer grilling demand wanes. Lack of supply of Prop 12 compliant pork means significantly less pork in the retail meat case. Fresh pork, be this loins, butts, ribs, and picnics will face more headwinds once slaughter is consistently above 2.5 million head/week.
  • Ham prices have pulled back, but USDA reported that last week some 18k MT were sold to Mexico, which should help steady the market. Export demand remains critical for the ham market in the fall.
  • Pork trim prices are heading lower now that supply has started to increase. Even lower prices expected in the fall.

Full Report

Belly Prices Move Lower, Adding To Price Uncertainty For The Fall.

Hog slaughter last week came in at 2.5 million head, not exactly a surprise but still notable as it was 3.7% higher than a year ago. Even with lower hog carcass weights total pork pounds coming to market were about 33 million pounds (+7%) higher than just a few weeks ago. Saturday slaughter was 156k head, higher than the Saturday following 4th of July and the highest regular week Saturday slaughter since mid-February. Faced with extra loads of bellies at a time when processors are scheduling a shorter work week packers had to drop the price and get traders involved. The result was a $66/cwt (-35%) decline in the value of the belly primal vs. the previous week. Belly prices have seen such big adjustments in the past, and it’s not a given that lower prices in the fall are guaranteed. In 2021 prices broke in late August only to rally into October (see chart on page 1). In other years lower prices were followed by even lower prices.

Global Pork Supplies, Sow Inventories And Production Prospects

What makes it especially difficult to chart a predictable path for bellies for the fall are the many potential demand factors at play. Retail sales likely benefited from the +20% decline in feature prices during July and August. Foodservice sales are uneven, with fast food potentially facing more headwinds as consumer budgets come under pressure. Bacon is a foodservice staple but depends on unit sales of chicken sandwiches and burgers to move. Then there is the situation in California, where currently much of the bacon sold is probably product that was produced before June 30. Last week we noted how premiums paid for specialty pork, which would include Prop 12 compliant pork, have not moved that much. Some analysts and market participants noted to us that retailers may have simply reduced the footprint of fresh pork and bacon rather than try to pay up to get a supply that may not be there. This would be an issue for pork overall in the fall when supplies seasonally increase. One positive from last week is that hog producers remain extremely current, evidenced in the sharp decline in carcass weights. This will likely help offset some of the seasonal increase in hog slaughter. And should demand surprise, be this export or domestic, then producers should be able to keep cash hog values from unravelling like they did in 2021.

Pork in Cold Storage and Implications

The report was bullish for pork although in the near term that may do little to support fall futures. The supply of pork in cold storage at the end of July was 473.8 million pounds, 10% lower than a year ago and 8.6% lower than the five year average. In the last five years July inventories declined an average 1.1% from June levels but this year the decline was 2.7%, bigger than what we saw last year. Faced with escalating pork prices it appears end users opted to draw down their inventories more aggressively. Also, it is possible that inventories were used to support demand in California as Prop 12 enforcement went into effect in July. Pork belly prices spiked in July, resulting in a 26% drawdown of belly inventories during the month, a bigger than normal decline. Still, belly supply in the freezer is 21% higher than last year. Prop 12 has skewed the freezer situation for this item. More important for belly prices in the fall is the effect of high prices this summer, foodservice sales and Prop 12 demand fallout. The report was supportive for ham values as inventory build in July was 5% compared to an average 11% in the last five years. Hams in cold storage at the end of July were 143.9 million pounds, 5.1% lower than last year and 9% lower than the five-year average. Pork trim inventories normally see a significant drawdown in July but this year they declined just 0.7%. Given how high prices were during the month, we see this as bearish for trim prices in the fall when supplies increase.

Price Chart


Steiner Consulting Group produces the National Pork Board newsletter based on information we believe is accurate and reliable. However neither NPB nor Steiner and Company warrants or guarantees the accuracy of or accepts any liability for the data, opinions or recommendations expressed.