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CME: Cold Storage Protein Stocks 4.4 per cent Up on 5 Year Average

24 April 2013

US - The supply of beef, pork and chicken in cold storage continues to trend above year ago and five year average levels, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Total inventories of red meat and poultry as of March 31 were 2.182 billion pounds, 5.7 per cent higher than a year ago and 4.4 per cent higher than the five year average.

The pace of inventory build in March was consistent with the normal seasonal increase at this time of year but the larger carryover indicates producers and end users are coming into spring with a notably larger position than a year ago and this could weigh on prices, at least in the short term.

The increase in cold storage stocks comes despite lower exports of pork and poultry. Through the first two months of the year pork exports were down 14 per cent compared to a year ago while chicken exports declined 2 per cent.

On the other hand beef imports, by far the largest imported meat protein category, remain above year ago levels. While overall inventories are larger than a year ago, the picture differs not just by species but also by item.



Total beef stocks were 513.2 million pounds, 2 per cent larger than a year ago and 17.4 per cent higher than the five year average. Just as was the case last year, beef inventories increased from February to March. In part this could be due to more imported beef coming to the US in Q1, as boneless beef stocks rose 6 per cent from the previous month and are 5.7 per cent higher than a year ago.

Also high prices for fat beef trimmings may have induced some end users to build inventories going into the grilling season.


Pork inventories continued to climb in March despite Easter being early this year, helping drawdown some of the accumulated ham supply. Total pork in cold storage at the end of March was 648.8 million pounds, 6.3 per cent higher than a year ago and 10 per cent higher than the five year average.

The concern with pork cold storage stocks so far has been that inventories are increasing even as exports lag year ago levels. This imply that these higher inventories will have to be absorbed in the domestic market and keep pork prices in check going into the spring.

Inventories of bone-in and boneless hams declined 14.,3 per cent from the previous month, which is normal given Easter this year was at the end of March. Total ham inventories at 95.0 million pounds were 18.6 per cent higher than a year ago, however and 15.1 per cent higher than the five year average.

Pork belly stocks continue to be well below year ago levels. High prices have limited the normal build in stocks that happens going into the spring. This will likely continue to support belly prices in the short term.

Belly prices have been one of the few positives for the pork market so far this year, with prices up almost 50 per cent from year ago levels, helping offset the price declines across all other primals. Total pork belly inventories were 51.5 million pounds, 22 per cent lower than a year ago and 26.3 per cent lower than the five year average.


Total broiler inventories were 617.9 million pounds, 7.6 per cent higher than a year ago but 3.3 per cent lower than the five year average. Chicken wings, which were flying high for much of last year and early in 2103 have pulled back sharply as end users likely changed menu offerings.

Wing inventories at 74.9 million pounds were 125.8 per cent higher than a year ago and 98.1 per cent higher than the five year average. Turkey stocks are higher than a year ago but the earlier Easter limited the normal inventory build that takes place in the first 8 months of the year.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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