USDA’s monthly Cold Storage report released today shows a mountain of meat and poultry piling up in storage, and pork near the top of the list, according to the Daily Livestock Report (DLR) by Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
Total frozen meat and poultry inventories stacked up at 2.249 million pounds on April 30 – 5.9% larger than last year and 7.5% larger than on March 31.
It’s the largest stock of frozen meat and poultry at the end of any month since August 2009. Year-to-date meat and poultry production is down 2.3%.
For pork, the total inventory of 659.532 million pounds is the second-largest on record. This year’s inventory on April 30 is 20.1% higher than last year and 8.1% higher than last month.
Hams are the biggest contributor to the pork storage oversupply, coming in 46% higher than last year and 40.6% higher than last month. There are 35.6 million more pounds of hams in U.S. freezers than one year ago and 32.5 million pounds more than last month. Working through the ham backlog has been slow this year, according to the DLR economists.
Pork bellies also added substantially to the backlog, coming in 40.6% higher than last year and 13.2% higher than last month. That 40.6% means there are 21.6 million more pounds of bellies available this year.
Based on weekly data, April 30 pork stocks added up to roughly 36% of April pork production. That’s the highest percentage of monthly production in month-end cold storage since April 2000.
All this means that meat and poultry consumption in April was sluggish, especially true for pork.
The fallout is that frozen pork stocks are large enough that it could blunt any cash rallies that could start when hog numbers finally decline this summer.
The authors suggest perhaps it is time to move away from record-high retail meat prices long enough to clean up some of this inventory and feature meat during this grilling season.
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