Total meat and poultry stocks held in U.S. cold storage warehouses on April 30, 2016, were 2.291 billion lb., coming in slightly lower than analysts' estimates. The total was 2.5% higher than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March stocks and 2.3% below last year, according to USDA's May “Cold Storage” report.
The report noted that total red meat supplies in freezers were up slightly from the previous month but down 8% from last year.
Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 3% from the previous month and down 7% from last year. Frozen pork supplies increased 4% from the previous month but were 9% lower than last year. Stocks of pork bellies were 12% higher than last month and 3% higher than last year.
Total frozen poultry supplies on April 30 were up 4% from the previous month and up 4% from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were 2% higher than last month and 5% higher than last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers increased 8% from last month and 1% from April 30, 2015.
Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on April 30 were up 2% from the previous month and up 12% from April 30, 2015. USDA said these levels were a record high for the month of April since the agency first started recording the data in 1917.
Butter stocks were 23% higher than last month and up 28% from a year ago.
Turkey hatchery output trending upward
USDA also recently released the May “Turkey Hatchery” report, which showed output trending upward.
Turkey eggs in incubators in the U.S. on May 1, 2016, totaled 28.2 million, a 5% increase from last year. Eggs in incubators were 4% lower than last month, at 29.4 million eggs, but poults hatched during April 2016 totaled 23.8 million, a 2 % increase from April 2015.
Poult placements of 23.2 million during April were 6% higher than last year, according to USDA. Net placements were also 4% higher than the March total of 22.4 million.
Len Steiner and Steve Meyer, in the “Daily Livestock Report,” said poult placements in the summer quarter should continue the trend, with a 5% gain in the forecast. The increases are mostly the result of poult placements that were reduced by highly pathogenic avian influenza during the middle two quarters of last year, they said, adding that poult placements in the next six months will still run below the pace of hatchery output during the same months of 2014.
“A concern for the turkey industry is the lack of expansion in domestic consumption, as well as exports that were down sharply from a year ago during the first quarter,” Steiner and Meyer explained. Domestic consumption of turkey during the January-to-March quarter was up 2% from a year earlier, while exports were down 25% on the same basis of comparison. Consequently, inventories of turkey in cold storage have been rising.
“An emerging issue for the turkey industry will be the effect that high wholesale turkey prices during the first half of the year will have on domestic turkey consumption in the second half of the year, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas,” they said.