U.S. pork exports continue to shine in the face of record hog slaughter that is perpetuating depressed live hog prices, according to University of Missouri agricultural economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

Pork exports for January 2008 jumped 26.6% from a year earlier and were a record high for a single month.

Net pork exports represented 13% of U.S. hog production, up 19.3% from a year earlier. This boost in net pork exports supported the robust demand for live hogs.

Pork exports in January to Japan were down 10.4% and also dropped by 7.1% to Mexico.

But shipments rose by 37.6% to Canada, to Russia by 128.7%, and to mainland China and Hong Kong by an incredible 249.3%.

Taiwan bought 14.8% less U.S. pork in January, Australia 15.8% less, but other countries bought 84.1% more.

U.S. pork imports rose a paltry 0.1%.

However, total live hog imports from Canada shot up 40.3% in the first month of 2008, according to the Missouri economists. Feeder pig imports in January climbed 39.3% over the same period in 2007, while non-feeder pig imports (all live swine that weigh more than 110 lb.) from Canada rose by 42.2%.

Live hog prices have been in a tailspin, down 14.2% in January and February, compared to the same period a year ago.

But hog prices would have been much lower, with the 12% increase in slaughter, were it not for the growth in pork and live hog demand.