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April pork exports show stronger levels than expected, although still down from last year.

Beef: The cash cattle market developed in the early part of last week, at lower money. Live sales in the South were mostly $2 lower at $113/cwt., while live sales in the North were reported at $114. Dressed trade at $183/cwt. was down $3 from last week's averages in the North. The Choice cutout was close to steady last week, while the Select cutout showed some weakening, further widening the Choice-Select spread. Weakness in the brisket primal was mostly offset by firmness in the Choice rib primal and basically steady values on the loin, chuck and round primals. The first full production week of June showed a rebound in cattle harvest back up to 662,000 head. Beef production was estimated at 526 million pounds for the week, up 13.4% from last week but 0.2% smaller than a year ago.

Pork: Total U.S. pork exports for April were released June 7, showing stronger levels than expected. Total pork leaving U.S. shores during the month were 524.5 million pounds, approximately 10 million pounds larger than March 2019 volume but was down 4.3% from the all-time monthly total posted in April last year. This puts the first four-month total at 1.97 billion pounds, down 4.5% compared with the January through April period last year. For 2019 to show an increase over last year, the latter half of the year is going to have to be extraordinarily strong to make up for the shortfall so far this year. China continues to be the country of discussion given the on-again/off-again trade discussions. U.S. pork shipments to China and Hong Kong during April totaled 52.7 million pounds, up 2.3% from April 2018 total and the largest monthly total shipped to these two countries since May 2017.

Poultry: Turkey poult placements were reported at 22.1 million head during April, which was 1.1% below the total reported by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a year earlier. Cumulative placements of poults from September 2018 through April 2019 are nearly 3% behind the year prior’s pace. While the previous poult placement statement suggests a rather strong reduction in front-end supplies, it comes despite largely upward revisions USDA made to previously reported poult placements in the most recent “Turkey Hatchery” report. Among other revisions, USDA added 800,000 poults to the originally reported total for October 2018 and subtracted 423,000 from the November total. In total, cumulative placements of turkey poults were revised up 568,000, most of which already have or will be processed nearby. With front-end supply growth capped nearby, the opportunity for a supply imbalance returning before the end of 2019 remains unlikely.

For a more detailed look at the weekly forecasts for the various .meat sectors and meat cuts, subscribe to the "Meat Price Outlook." Contact Susan Dahlgren at susan.dahlgren@farmprogress.com for more information.

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