Cash hogs lower, beef and pork sharply higher
Cash cattle business was generally undeveloped Thursday. There were a few fed cattle bids in Nebraska at $155 dressed, but not enough actual sales to report. Plant closures and slowdowns because of COVID-19 cases at packing plants raises questions about how many cattle will be processed for the week. It appears that cash cattle business will take place on Friday, if at all. Because of the number of positive COVID cases among packing plant workers, many plants are running at reduced levels or not at all. Regardless, there is continued uncertainty about meat demand. The current strong upward push in beef cutout value has more to do with uncertainty about supply rather than demand, according to DTN. Live cattle futures contracts closed moderately to sharply higher Thursday, from $.42 to $1.65 higher, while feeder cattle futures ended the day sharply higher, up $1.42 to $2.90. Boxed beef is sharply higher again. Choice boxes are $5.34 higher at $235.87. Selects are $3.76 higher at $225.98. Estimated cattle slaughter for Thursday is 92,000 head; 7,000 less than last week, 30,000 fewer than a year ago.
The cash hog market remains under pressure as slaughter capacity continues to shrink because of packing plants having to either shut down or slow down because of COVID-19. The one bright spot for the US pork sector is export potential. Global protein demand is high and as long as the US doesn’t see a major disruption to its production, it should be well positioned to meet the world’s pork and export needs. This week’s export sales had pork sales down on the week, but still up on the 4-week average. China was this week’s top buyer. Cash hogs are lower. National Direct butcher hogs $1.16 lower with a weighted average of $32.87. Iowa/Minnesota Direct hogs were $1.60 lower, with a weighted average of $32.34. Western Corn Belt Direct hogs were $1.17 lower, with a weighted average of $32.81. The pork carcass cutout ended Thursday sharply higher, up $3.76 at $55.86. Estimated hog slaughter Thursday was 444,000; 28,000 fewer than last week and 36,000 fewer than last year.