Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures extended their rally on Friday, setting a contract high for the fourth consecutive day on strong demand, while live cattle futures topped a one-year high.
Traders predicted Chinese buyers will continue to snap up U.S. pork after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday reported export sales to China last week hit a three-month high.
China, the world’s top pork consumer, increased meat imports after a fatal pig virus, African swine fever, began devastating its herd starting in August 2018. The country is attempting to rebuild the herd, but still grappling with disease.
U.S. exports of pork and pork products to China surged 75 per cent in 2020 to a record $2.28 billion, USDA data showed (all figures US$).
Domestic demand for meat has also been solid as more U.S. restaurants are re-opening after COVID-19 restrictions, traders said.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) April lean hog futures closed up one cent at 80.3 cents/lb. The contract traded up to 80.625 cents, exceeding Thursday’s life-of-contract high of 80.075 cents.
CME April live cattle closed 0.025 cent higher, to 123.775 cents/lb., and reached its highest price since Jan. 15, 2020, at 124.25 cents.
March feeder cattle slid 1.225 cents to close at 138.275 cents/lb., extending a retreat since hitting a five-month high of 144.85 on Jan. 25.
Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef edged up 33 cents, to $234.58/cwt, on Friday, while select cut prices rose 35 cents, to $220.79/cwt, according to USDA.
— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.