The Iowa/southern Minnesota cash hog market broke $100/cwt. carcass for the first time ever on Tuesday at $100.69, up $5.22/cwt. from Monday, then went even higher on Wednesday reaching $101.65.cwt., says Steve Meyer in CME Group’s Daily Livestock Report (www.dailylivestockreport.com).

“The top of the range paid for pigs in Iowa-Minnesota was a whopping $106.00 yesterday,” he says. The western Corn Belt (of which Iowa-Minnesota is a subset) weighted average negotiated base price also surpassed $100 Wednesday, reaching $101.49.

The national weighted average price, which also includes prices in the eastern Corn Belt, ended just shy of the $100 mark at $99.93.

Traders said this week’s higher hog and pork markets are the result of a combination of fewer hogs and increased domestic and export pork sales.

“The supply is driving the prices this week. We are pulling hogs forward because of these record prices. We have never been at these (price) levels,” said an Iowa hog dealer.

Normally, in early summer, hog supplies decline, forcing buyers to bid up prices to ensure supplies are adequate to run plants efficiently.

“They tell me there is a big drop in hog supply and the weights are lighter,” says Bill Cipolla, a Chicago-based independent hog trader.

As the hog supply drops, demand is on the rise as retailers are buying pork for the July 4 holiday, and talk grows of more potential pork sales to China and South Korea.

USDA reports that so far in 2011, China has purchased 106.8 million lb. vs. 3.8 million a year ago, and South Korea is at 233.9 million lb. vs. 84 million a year earlier.