Consumer demand for pork from January through June fell 2.3% from a year ago, according to University of Missouri agricultural economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

In fact, all meats lost demand during the first six months of the year, with pork showing the smallest loss. Beef was down 4.7%, broilers were down 5.5% and turkey was down 5.1%.

On the plus side, live hog demand saw an 8.2% growth in January-June compared to the same period in 2007. Pork exports accounted for most of this growth, followed by population growth.

Pork product value has shown strong growth during July, the economists report. On July 1, pork product cutout averaged $78.81/cwt. On July 31, that cutout value rose to $88.23/cwt. That strength led packers to increase negotiated carcass price from $70.05/cwt. on July 1 to $79.01/cwt. on July 31. At the same time, pork production was up 7% in July, certainly reflecting the strong live hog demand, they said.

The economists stress there is no doubt that hog producers are responding to the high feed prices by marketing hogs a little lighter. Barrow and gilt weights in Iowa-southern Minnesota averaged 259.3 lb./head for the week ending July 26, down 0.3 lb. from a week earlier and down 2.4 lb. from the same week in 2007.