Hog Market Sizzles

After bottoming at a 14-year low in October, the hog market has begun smoking higher. Prices have rallied nearly 40%, with December lean hogs topping 57 cents per pound Friday.

Some of the rally has been sparked by investors taking advantage of rock-bottom prices, but supply and demand factors are boosting values as well.

Prices are warming up as the temperature sinks; cold weather makes it harder for animals to gain weight, limiting the supply of meat.

Meanwhile, meatpackers have been rushing to buy hogs ahead of the Christmas holiday, taking advantage of still-profitable margins. Demand has been so high that a record 2.54 million hogs were slaughtered last week.

Longer-term, if the packers get caught with high pork inventory and lower demand, this rally could falter, but for now, prices are heading toward hog heaven.