U.S. hog prices should remain strong in 2012 in spite of a predicted 1.7% increase in production, according to Ron Plain, Extension livestock marketing economist at the University of Missouri.

The live price for barrows and gilts will average $66.32 per hundredweight in 2011 and somewhere between $63/cwt. and $68/cwt. in 2012, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers. “Given a typical 0.9% increase in the U.S. population, per-capita meat supplies should be tight enough to allow hog prices to hold steady despite an increase in production,” said Plain.

Hog prices were down slightly for the week of December 12; cash prices were $57 to $59 in most markets. Hog slaughter was up nearly 4% from the same time in 2010, while carcass weights remain higher than 2010 numbers.