The law of supply and demand will soon work in favor of pork lovers. A University of Georgia expert says an oversupply of hogs is bringing supermarket prices down and forcing Georgia farmers to sell their hogs at a loss.
has been disastrous for hog farmers as prices for hogs are much weaker than has been expected," said John McKissick, an Extension Service agricultural economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"The hog numbers are so high that farmers are having to sell at prices considerably lower than their production costs," McKissick said. "Needless to say, hog producers are in a losing position. And the end of 1998 will be the worst."
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|HOG OVERSUPPLY for farmers means pork bargains for consumers. University of Georgia economists expect retail pork prices to remain low through late 1999. Dennis McDaniel, a meat cutter at Food Depot in Griffin, Ga., stocks the counter with fresh pork products.|
Georgia consumers, though, will soon reap the benefits of the farmers' woes.
"Pork products are going to cost considerably less this holiday season," McKissick said. "There will be some excellent deals on holiday hams and other pork products. "Overall retail pork prices are expected to drop about 9 percent."
McKissick said shoppers should be prepared to stock their freezers with pork products as prices drop in this "once-in-five-years deal." Holiday prices for higher-value products such as spiral cut hams will be excellent values, he said.
The low market prices have some Georgia farmers pulling out of the hog business. Tift County hog farmer Milton Thompson is one of them.
"We've decided to liquidate our herd and more or less sell out of the hog business," Thompson said. "After working the past four or five years for nothing, I don't think I'll miss it at all."
This year's prices forced Thompson to sell his 250-pound hogs for $57 each. That's far below his cost of production. Last year, Thompson sold the same size hogs for $135 each.
Reactions like Thompson's put shoppers at the mercy of the market, too. Good deals don't last forever. The rules of supply and demand will soon come back to haunt pork lovers.
"As with all meat products, we go through cycles that bring good news to consumers and bad news to producers," McKissick said. "As a result, farmers are going to cut back on production. That will lead to higher prices in the grocery stores in about nine months."
It will take at least nine months, or until late 1999 for farmers' cutbacks to result in higher prices, McKissick said.
"The consumer has a long time to benefit from relatively low pork prices," he said. "You won't find many better deals on pork than you're going to find right now."
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)