Hogs & Lamb Exports Rise

The following meat market update was prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP livestock and meat specialist. The market update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports. Edited by Mid-West Farm Report.


Cash hogs were $1.75/cwt higher last week and futures contracts showed strength as well. The national negotiated lean hog price was 86.70 cents per pound last Friday, making it the highest level since August. Packers continue to seek hogs with last week’s harvest estimated to be 2.421 million. That makes it 17,000 head higher than the previous week and 51,000 higher than a year ago.

Wholesale pork prices have been stronger. The cutout value averaged $96.91 last week, a gain of $2.25 on the week. The value was $100.71 on Tuesday of this week with all primals, except ribs and bellies, higher.

While domestic demand is improving, exports continue to be strong. February pork exports increased 14% from a year ago to 250,930 metric tons, while value jumped 15% to $685.1 million. Through the first two months of 2024, exports increased 10% in both volume and value. The pork sector has been very successful in cultivating new markets. Pork exports to South America are off to a strong start in 2024. February shipments increased 58% from a year ago. Shipments are also up to Central America and Australia. February pork export value equated to $62.37 per head harvested, up 4% from a year ago


The lamb markets continue to be lightly tested at local auction markets in the Midwest. Traditional market lambs were called steady nationally last week. Light lambs were called steady to $30/cwt higher. The net lamb cutout value was $472.03 last Friday, compared to $476.97 the week prior. The weekly harvest estimate was 32,000 head, 8,000 below the previous week and 9,000 less than a year ago. The drop in production is typical for this time of year.

Lamb exports were strong in January and followed up with another good performance in February. February exports climbed 11% from a year ago to 270 metric tons in February. Export value increased 18% to $1.5 million. Through February, lamb exports increased 19% from a year ago with value up 34% led by growth in the Bahamas, the Leeward-Windward Islands, and Canada. Exports to Mexico trended lower in volume but still climbed 26% in value to just under $600,000.

Market lambs were lightly tested. Shorn lambs brought $205 to 245/cwt with reports of some selling higher.