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CME: Total Frozen Meat, Poultry Stocks Still Low

23 April 2010

US - USDA’s monthly Cold Storage report, released on 22 April, shows inventories of frozen meat and poultry on 31 March fractionally larger than last month but still over 12 per cent lower than one year ago, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report will be released today at 3:00 pm EDT, 2:00 pm CDT. The table at right shows the ranges and averages for estimates of the three key numbers from the report as compiled by DowJones. As you see, there is a good deal of disagreement about just how large March placements might be. The average of the estimates, 106.6 per cent of last year, is actually smaller than most of the numbers that we have heard over the past few weeks — large numbers based on profitable fed cattle sales, the opportunity to actually lock in profits for cattle placed in March and some degree of weather-delayed placements in January and February. The consensus of the 13 surveyed analysts is that the number will indeed be larger but the increase will not be as large as some expect. Even with higher placements, feedlot inventories are expected to be below yearearlier level for the 21st time in the last 23 months.

The chart below shows the monthly totals for the four major species and the data for all species and all cuts appear in the table on page 2 (please see link below).

Some quick highlights:

  • Total frozen meat and poultry stocks amounted to 1.928 billion pounds, still very close to their lowest levels since 2003 and only 11.7 million pounds higher than on 28 February.

  • Chicken inventories fell to 619.9 million lbs., 1.3 per cent lower than last month and 2.5 per cent below last year — and their lowest levels since May 2007 in spite of extremely small exports to Russia in January and February. Leg quarter inventories did fall by 4.7 per cent in March. The most noteworthy contributor to lower chicken inventories, were breasts and breast meat at 8.2 per cent and 19.5 per cent lower for the month and year, respectively.

  • Pork inventories FELL by 5 .5 million pounds or just over 1 per cent in March. That is unusual as pork stocks usually grow until April or May before declining with seasonally lower pork output. A decline in March and then the short slaughter weeks of the past two weeks point to the potential that pork inventories could fall sharply by May1. Unclassified pork, other pork, trimmings and bellies and hams accounted for the largest tonnage declines versus last year. Ham stocks were 27.7 per cent lower for the month.

  • Beef inventories of 390.5 million pounds were 3.5 per cent lower than last month and 8.3 per cent lower than last year — and were at their lowest levels July 2005 as of 1 April. The amounts of both frozen boneless beef and beef cuts were eight per cent lower than last year. Of course, eight per cent for boneless beef is 30 million pounds, where eight per cent for beef cuts is 5.3 million pounds.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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