U.S. livestock: Lean hogs trim as packers work through holiday backlogs

CME cattle futures pressured lower

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures fell on Wednesday as packers work through backlogs caused by holiday shutdowns, analysts said.

Daily hog slaughter regained from holiday pace, with 495,000 head processed compared to 472,000 head the week prior, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, but was still short of prior year pace.

“We’ve still got big hog numbers right now,” said Dough Houghton, technical analyst at Brock Capital Management. “There’s backups from the holidays, plus we had the Columbus Junction pork plant from Tyson that was down.”

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Tyson Foods resumed processing today at its pork processing plant at Columbus Junction, Iowa, after a Dec. 16 shutdown due to mechanical issues.

Lean hog futures fell for a second day after four days of gains. CME February lean hogs settled down 1.15 cent at 69.775 cents/lb., its biggest slide since Dec. 11, 2020 (all figures US$).

Meanwhile, live cattle futures inched lower as traders weighed declining beef cutout values against expected tighter market-ready cattle supplies in the second quarter of the year.

Wholesale beef fell for a second day, with choice boxed-beef cuts down 63 cents, to $205.27/cwt, and select cuts down 41 cents at $196.08, USDA said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) February live cattle futures settled 0.05 cents lower at 115 cents/lb., while feeder cattle futures felt pressure from rising corn futures, with CME March feeder cattle settling 0.85 cents lower at 136.575 cents/lb.

Cattle slaughter remains lower, with just 117,000 head processed compared to 124,000 the same period last year, putting week-to-date beef production at 347,000 — 1.4 per cent behind last week and 5.7 per cent behind the same period last year.

“That’s not good, coming out of the holidays, when you hope to see good beef clearance,” said Houghton.

— Christopher Walljasper reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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