Frozen Red Meat Supplies Up; Beef Down From 2017

Total red meat supplies in cold storage on March 31 were up 1% from Feb. 28 and were up 7% from last year, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday in its monthly Cold Storage report.

Total pounds of beef in US freezers were up 1% from February but down slightly from March 31, 2017.  Frozen pork supplies were up slightly from the previous month and up 12% from last year.  Pork belly supplies were up 21% from last month and up 188% from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on March 31 were up 1% from February and up 12% from a year ago.  Total chicken stocks were down 3% from the previous month but were up 14% from last year.  Turkey supplies in freezers were up 8% from last month and up 8% from a year earlier.




Total frozen beef supplies at the end of March amounted to 464.971 million pounds, up 5.632 million, or 1.23%, from 459.339 million on Feb. 28, but down 970,000, or 0.21%, from 464.001 million a year earlier.

Total pounds of beef on ice tends to bounce slightly after declining in February.  The 2012-2016 average shows a small increase in March and April followed by a decline into the August bottom of 431.296 million pounds.

Last year, the annual bottom in frozen beef supplies was at the end of May at 411.498 million pounds.  The annual peak in frozen stocks was at the end of January at 538.215 million, but a secondary high occurred in October at 507.041 million.




While total pounds of pork in cold storage rose in March from February and continued well above last year, they also remained below the previous five-year average.

Frozen pork stocks amounted to 611.048 million pounds on March 31, up 1.268 million, or 0.21%, from 609.780 million in February and up 65.585 million, or 12.0%, from 545.463 million last year but down 12.927 million, or 2.07%, from the 2012-2016 average of 623.975 million.

Cold storage supplies of pork tend to peak in April around 656.599 million pounds and then decline to a summer low in July at 571.670 million.  A secondary high occurs in September at 609.426 million.

The annual low takes place in December as hams are used up for the holidays.  The 2012-2016 average low is 526.143 million pounds.

Last year’s low, also in December, was 490.047 million pounds.




On the Livestock Exchange Video Auction last Wednesday, 161 head sold for 1- through 9-day delivery at $122 per cwt, and 338 sold for 1- through 17-day delivery at $120.  The previous Wednesday, cattle sold at $114 to $118 per cwt.

Cash trade got started last Thursday at $121 to $122 per cwt on a live basis and moved to $122 to $124 by Friday.  Dressed-basis trade was noted at $192 to $195, up $2 to $5.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was up $2.54 per cwt at $217.65, while select was up $0.39 at $202.11.  The choice/select spread widened to $15.54 from $13.39 with 118 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday, was $138.08 per cwt, down $0.05.  This compares with Tuesday’s Apr settlement of $139.10, up $0.07 and May’s close of $140.15, down $0.45.