U.S. lean hog futures climb to more than 10-month high

By Christopher Walljasper

CHICAGO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. lean hog futures on Thursday soared to their highest prices in more than 10 months, as meat demand continued to strain processor capacity and COVID-19 cases are rising in the United States, traders said.

Thursday's daily U.S. hog slaughter was 490,000 head - 2,000 fewer than the same period last year, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For the week to date, packers have slaughtered 14,000 fewer hogs, compared to the same period a year earlier.

"I think we're at slaughter capacity right now, especially with the lockdowns," said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.

Zuzolo noted that even though government data is showing that processing volumes are close to pre-pandemic levels, "I don't think we can get much bigger than where we already are."

CME December lean hogs added 1.450 cents to 69.875 cents per pound, the highest since Dec. 5, 2019.

But higher futures prices have some packers hunting for ways to bolster their profit margins. Zuzolo said one of his client's had a packer not take his contracted hogs, and instead opted to buy animals in the local cash market.

"They could buy hogs cheaper on the open market than they could filling his contract prices," Zuzolo said.

Meanwhile, live cattle futures dipped, as impending COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe threaten global meat demand, traders said.

CME December live cattle futures dipped 0.725 cent to 109.550 cents per pound, while CME January feeder cattle fell 1.225 cents to 132.100 cents per pound.

"We're highly dependent on demand," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities. "It looks like this next pandemic relief package is on hold until after the election, so the buying habits may be slowing down and the concern with COVID on the rise." (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020. Click For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Galvanized screen squares make great piping barriers

pipe mesh form To form barriers for birds and rodents, I use my metal press and PVC pipe caps to mold and shape ¼-inch galvanized screen squares. Pieces... read more

Talk in Marketing

Most Recent Poll

What are the benefits to using a farmland leasing/purchasing tool?