Meat, poultry cold storage inventories fall

marina_karkalicheva/iStock/Thinkstock Pork carcasses hanging in cooler
Heavier weights supported higher meat production, offsetting lower slaughter volumes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest “Cold Storage” report this week, showing the combined inventory of pork, beef, chicken and turkey in cold storage at 2.24 billion lb., nearly an 8% decline.

Steiner Consulting Group noted in the CME Group’s “Daily Livestock Report” that in the last five years, the inventory of the four main proteins at the end of October has been 4.1% lower than at the end of September. This year, the drawdown was 3.5%, which Steiner said was mostly because the beef inventory increased at a faster pace than in previous years.

Total red meat supplies in freezers were 983 million lb., up 1% from the previous month but down 12% from last year. Total beef in freezers was 500.5 million lb., up 8% from the previous month and up 7% from last year. Frozen pork supplies were at 448.2 million lb., down 4% from the previous month and down 27% from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 21% from last month and down 57% from last year.

Frozen poultry supplies on Oct. 31, 2020, totaled 1.29 billion lb., down 7% from the previous month and down 4% from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were at 912.1 million lb., up 3% from the previous month but down 4% from last year. Total turkey in freezers was down to 377.03 million lb., down 25% from last month and down 4% from Oct. 31, 2019.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on Oct. 31, 2020, were down 1% from the previous month and down slightly from Oct. 31, 2019. Butter stocks were down 13% from last month but up 28% from a year ago.

Third-quarter 2020 meat production

USDA recently reported that the average weights for pork, beef, broilers and turkeys were heavier for the third quarter of 2020 than for the third quarter of 2019, supporting higher meat production or offsetting lower slaughter volumes.

USDA said more hogs were slaughtered in the third quarter of 2020 than 2019, while slaughter for the other three meat species declined. Hog slaughter increased 4%, and hog weights were up 1%, leading to a more than 5% increase in pork production.

Cattle slaughter was down fractionally by 0.1%, but cattle weights increased 2.8%, leading to a net increase in beef production of 2.7%.

Broiler production declined by 0.4%, driven by a 1.1% increase in broiler weights, while slaughter numbers declined by 1.6%.

USDA said an increase in turkey weights offset the decline in turkey numbers to leave turkey production nearly unchanged.

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