Urner Barry analyst Russ Whitman said it would be fair to say that few were expecting a Christmas miracle when it came to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's December cold storage report for the turkey industry, and they didn't get one.
As suspected, and with the exception of legs, Whitman said the figures in the report were well above last year not only in total holdings but also in each individual category.
“At 238.7 million lb., inventories on hand were among the uppermost of the past decade. In fact, only the high water production years of 2008, 2009 and 2012 exhibited end-of-November stocks at more robust levels,” he said.
Looking more specifically at whole-body turkeys, Whitman said the total of 70.4 million lb. is slightly above the 10-year average, while tom inventories were nothing special, placing in the middle of that same time frame. Freezer stocks of hens, on the other hand, are at the highest level recorded since the data started to be collected; at 39.32 million lb., they are 14% above last year, he said.
“In this sector, the story might not so much be what was left after Thanksgiving as ... what was ‘consumed’ during it,” Whitman said.
The data showed that the 127 million lb. of "outward" whole bird movement between the close of October and the end of November was less than at any time in the past decade. “So, while a happy New Year is what's wished for, significant inventories, coupled with advancing production, will no doubt provide their share of marketing challenges in 2017,” he said.