Beef: Some cash cattle trade began to develop in the South very late Friday afternoon, at mostly $118/cwt. live, which was approximately $1-2 higher than the prior week. The cash market probably has a chance to reach the $120/cwt. level before the end of the year. Some modest strength early last week dissipated through the remainder of the week, with the week’s average cutout values not very different from the prior week. Gains in the primal rib were offset by steady to weaker levels in the rest of the major primals. Cutout values may show some modest weakening into Christmas and then strengthen into the new year. There were strong daily harvest levels Tuesday through Friday last week, but impending stormy weather was expected to curtail some operating hours for Saturday in the Midwest. Last week’s cattle harvests were estimated at 643,000 head, 12.2% larger than the prior week that had holiday-reduced production. However, they were even with last year. Beef production, estimated at 531 million lb., was 12.5% above the previous week but 1% below year ago.
Pork: Cold storage stocks at the end of October were 570 million lb., a 4.6% decline from the same period in 2017. Looking ahead, the remainder of the year is expected to be on a seasonal pace with the last few months and to reach the lowest levels in the last three years. As the industry begins final preparations over the next few weeks regarding intentions to start 2019, fresh supply expectations will be in question. In looking at the forward futures curve for hog pricing, next summer is priced at a strong premium to the cash forecast, with the board pricing in additional world demand for U.S. pork on account of African swine fever (ASF) in China. This is expected to affect cold storage decisions if that risk scenario ever materializes. Cold storage building programs are expected to be quite strong starting in mid-December but may not exceed 2018 levels for the first five months of 2019 as the effects of ASF may not materialize into additional demand until then.
Poultry: October ready-to-cook (RTC) broiler production reported in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Poultry Slaughter” report was slightly above Informa Economics IEG Vantage projections at 3.89 billion. The October RTC broiler production total was up 5% from the same month a year earlier and counteracted the 0.3% decline reported during September. Record average liveweights, which came in slightly larger than anticipated, were the main contributors to the record RTC broiler production for October. However, total slaughter came in slightly above expectations as well. Total broiler disappearance for October is expected to be 3.9 billion lb., which would be record large, up 7.0% from a year earlier. Utilizing U.S. Census population estimates for October, resident population and armed forces overseas, as well as IEG Vantage estimates for trade, brings per capita broiler disappearance to a record, at 10.0 lb., on an RTC basis.
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