US – The supply of red meat and poultry in cold storage is higher than a year ago but the drawdown in stocks during November suggests demand remains in good shape, according to Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.
The total supply of beef, pork, chicken and turkey in cold storage at the end of November was 2.179 billion pounds, 4.9 per cent higher than a year ago and 10.2 per cent higher than the five year average. However, the drawdown in stocks during November was 10.7 per cent compared to 9.3 per cent average of the last five years.
The inventory of boneless beef at the end of November was 445.8 million pounds, 9.6 per cent less than a year ago. Boneless beef stocks declined by 3.5 per cent from the previous month while in the last five years inventories actually increased into year end.
Beef inventories declined in November even as beef production increased by 2.2 per cent during the month. The sharp decline in fat beef trimmings in the last few weeks will likely encourage end users to start building inventory positions for spring needs.
According to USDA, there were 505.0 million pounds of pork in cold storage at the end of last month, 2.7 per cent less than a year ago and 5.7 per cent less than the five year average. What is even more impressive is that inventories declined 15.6 per cent from the previous month.
In the last five years the average drawdown in freezer stocks has been 7.8 per cent. Part of the reason for the decline in inventories is the increase in hog slaughter and ample product availability. With slaughter expected to remain historically large in 2018, packers and end users continue to be very aggressive in liquidating inventories during key holiday periods.
Ham inventories at the end of November were 98.2 million pounds, a 50 per cent decline from the previous month and the biggest drawdown in stocks in almost a decade. Current ham inventories are down 7.5 per cent from a year ago and 6.6 per cent lower than the five year average. Ham inventories have declined sharply in the last two weeks, which is normal for this time of year.
The lower inventories should help support produce accumulation for Easter needs and we see the latest cold storage report as supportive of the pork/hog market for late January and February. Pork belly inventories have almost double compared to the minimal volume in storage a years go. Lower belly prices in December will likely cause more bellies to go into the freezer and this should help prevent the sort of price appreciation we observed in Q1 of 2017.
Chicken supplies in cold storage remain heavy. The total supply of whole broilers and broiler parts was 897.4 million pounds, 13.5 per cent higher than a year ago and 20.4 per cent higher than the five year average. Wing and leg quarter inventories are lower than last year but breast meat inventories remain burdensome and there are notably more “other” chicken parts currently stored away.
Turkey inventories at the end of November were 289.3 million pounds, 22 per cent higher than a year ago. Breast meat inventories declined once again in November but still remain 16 per cent above year ago levels. Whole bird stocks are currently 58 per cent higher than last year.