Commercial Meat Production Down: USDA

Commercial meat production in November was down 8.74% to 3.76 billion pounds from November 2013’s total of 4.12 billion, according to USDA figures.

Commercial beef production accounted for 1.850.5 billion pounds, down 207.1 million, or 10.1%, from a year earlier.  Pork production during the month was 1.891 billion pounds, down 149.2 million pounds, or 7.31%, from 2.040 billion in the year-ago month.

“Commercial” beef production is above “federally inspected” beef production because commercial production includes everything but what was slaughtered on the farm, while federally inspected meat includes only was came from plants under federal inspection versus state inspection.

During November, beef prices were rising.  USDA data shows the choice cutout value rising to $256.78 per cwt after recovering from a one-week dip the first week of the month to $240.35, a 6.84% rise.  At the same time, choice beef the last week of November was up $87.73 per cwt from the five-year average of $169.05, a 51.9% increase.  It also was up $54.74, or 27.1%, from $202.04 a year earlier.

The price of pork, however, was declining in November.  USDA data show the pork cutout ended November at $92.88 per cwt, down $3.03 per cwt, or 3.16%, from $95.91 the first week of the month.  This goes against a seasonal trend, with the 2008-2012 average rising $0.38 per cwt to $74.28 from $73.89.

But the pork cutout did follow last year’s November decline, which fell to $89.12 per cwt from $94.25, a decline of $5.13, or 5.45%.

Veal production in November also was down from a year ago at 6.5 million pounds, compared with 9.1 million a year ago as more dairy calves are sent to the feedlot for eventual slaughter as mature animals.




Total federally inspected cattle slaughter in November was 2.21 million head, down from October’s 2.59 million and the year-ago rate of 2.53 million.  Slaughter was off 87% from last year.

Slaughter weights, however, continued to climb.  Federally inspected cattle weighed an average of 1,367 pounds in November, compared with 1,359 pounds in October and 1,342 pounds in November 2013, a 2% increase from a year ago.

Going forward, slaughter cattle weights, and beef production, likely will decline as cold weather takes its toll on growth and fattening rates followed by an influx of calf-fed cattle keeps pressure on weights well into spring.

A graph of federally inspected steer dressed weights shows a seasonal tendency for weights to peak in early October followed by some November stability before a winter/early spring decline to the seasonal lows.

Up until July, this year’s dressed weights followed last year’s trend very closely, but at midyear, 2014 dressed weights climbed to a later-than-normal seasonal top of 906 pounds, 28 pounds, or 3.19%, above last year’s 878 pounds.




Hog slaughter continues to rise as producers find ways to circumvent the losses of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.  Federally inspected hog slaughter, at 2.298 million head, surpassed the average last week at 2.069 million, although it remained below last year’s 2.366 million.

For the month, federally inspected hog slaughter totaled 8.754 million head, 9% fewer than 9.579 million a year ago.

With rising production and declining prices, pork could compete aggressively with beef in coming weeks and months.