The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that beef production in the Q1 2020 set a first-quarter record. In fact, even though retail demand for meat skyrocketed in late March as consumers prepared to shelter in place, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that beef held in cold storage at the end of March 2020 was 11% above last year and 2% above the previous month.
Since that peak in late March, however, federally inspected beef production fell almost 32% through the week ending April 25 as the rate of cattle slaughter declined at several beef packing facilities. This slowdown in cattle slaughter limited beef production at facilities where operations temporarily closed or shifts were reduced due to labor force absences caused by the spread of COVID-19.
At a time when cattle slaughter numbers increase seasonally, cattle slaughter rates for the week ending April 25 were down 28% year over year.
USDA’s said its Economic Research Service continues to closely monitor the latest USDA data and industry news amid a rapidly evolving situation.