Business
Pork prices shoot up after virus hits the US
Publish Date: Apr 05, 2014
Pork prices shoot up after virus hits the US
This August 8, 2013 file photo shows barbecue meats, including pulled pork, being prepared during lunch in Washington, DC. AFP Photo
  • mail
  • img
newvision

NEW YORK- A dark cloud is menacing the cherished US summer season of outdoor grilling: a deadly pig virus that has been sweeping through farms and driving up pork prices.
 
The porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus was first officially detected in the United States in May 2013. Now it is active in 27 of the nation's 50 states.
 
The contagious virus is not transmissible to humans and poses no risk to food safety, assures the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). But it causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs and is fatal in piglets.
 
Fearing the virus will produce a shortfall in pork supplies during barbecue season, some processors have stocked up their warehouses, sending prices higher.
 
Prices for pork for delivery in April have soared more than 45 percent on the Chicago Board of Trade since the beginning of the year. On Friday, the futures contract slipped two cents to close at $1.23 a pound (0.45 kilogram).
 
7 million pigs infected 
 
The USDA does not have official data on the number of pigs infected by the virus. But according to Rich Nelson of the agricultural market research and trading firm Allendale, as many as seven million pigs were hit since last May, or about six percent to eight percent of production.
 
With some 113 million pigs sent to the slaughterhouse in 2012, the United States is the world's second-leading pork producer behind China.
 
Stepped-up precautionary measures have been taken in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, such as making sure trucks are spotlessly clean or limiting the number of outside visitors to farms. The virus is expected to become less contagious when temperatures climb.
 
Some fear the supply of pork products will be drastically reduced during the summer season of BLT sandwiches -- made with bacon, lettuce and tomato -- and above all of barbecues, which are fired up full blast from Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, through Labor Day, the first Monday of September.
 
"The peak of PED was four or five weeks ago," which means that the worst impact probably will be in June or early July, said Nelson, director of research at Allendale.
 
"During those months, hogs slaughter will be 10 percent to 15 percent lower."
 
'Sticker shock' 
 
Even though it is difficult to predict precisely the effect on the prices of ham, chops and sausages in stores, analysts are saying it will be a hog-sized jump. Nelson sees prices climbing as much as eight percent.
 
"Sticker shock" could be damped by two factors, said Jason Roose, vice president of US Commodities, a grain and livestock investment firm in West Des Moines, Iowa, in the heart of the nation's Farm Belt.
 
For one, pork producers are benefiting from the lower cost of corn to feed their animals, and are selling fatter pigs that are six pounds heavier than a year ago, weighing 282 pounds on average.
 
And the second factor is price-point pressure on consumers, the commodities analyst said.
 
"If some of the pork prices are getting high enough that it compares to lobster prices, you buy lobster or you buy less ribs," Roose said.
 
Consumers would be unlikely to turn to beef, whose prices have shot up in recent months due to the drought in several big cattle-raising states including Texas.
 
But there are "lots of substitutes" out there, he said, rattling off so-called "white meats" like fish, turkey and chicken.
 
AFP
 
RELATED STORY

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Egypt to offer projects to domestic, foreign investors
Egypt will offer a slew of projects to domestic and foreign investors at a conference in March aimed at kick-starting an economy battered by years of political unrest....
Students’ involvement in investment negotiations is key
University students have been urged to get involved in negotiations of trade, bilateral and investment agreements rather than leaving it to technocrats and politicians....
Practices to add to your daily business schedule
At the end of each day’s work, find time to identify three things that went well. Once you identify them, ask the critical question such as, “Why did ‘X’ go well?”...
Dubai insurer set for Uganda
The new firm will enter into strategic partnerships to oversee, design, and control processes of selected licensed brokers....
Textile manufacturers want the national textile policy implemented
Textile industries are pushing for the implementation of a National Textile Policy. They also want government institutions compelled to buy textiles from local companies....
BOU has no influence on govt spending
There have been allegations in the media that Bank of Uganda printed money for the 2011 elections, which led to the high inflation rate at the time....
Should workers be subjected to a 4% Health Insurance Tax??
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter