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CME: US Red Meat Production Up from 2015

05 April 2016

US - The beginning of April has brought the end of the first quarter in 2016, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Here we will review US red meat and poultry production for first quarter of 2016 compared to 2015, however meat production for the last two weeks of March are still estimated.

First, the added day in February carried-over to impact quarterly totals. There were 64 weekdays when slaughter occurred during the first quarter of this year compared to 63 days in 2015. That does not seem like much, but the additional day ends up impacting production by 1.6 per cent.

Starting with beef, preliminary first quarter production totals show 4.8 per cent more beef was produced in 2016 compared to 2015.

Adjusting for the one more slaughter day put production up 3.2 per cent year-over-year. That gain was on higher steer and cow slaughter combined with heavier dressed weights year-over-year.

Notably, steer dressed weights have been counter seasonally up during some recent weeks, with weights moving up when they would normally move down.

The most recent data did show a one pound decrease week-to-week for the third week of March, however.

On the pork side, preliminary first quarter production numbers are 1.1 per cent over 2015’s and so after adjusting for the extra day, pork production was down 0.5 per cent year-over-year. This was due to a combination of a slight increase in hog slaughter but a decrease in dressed weights year-over-year.

Hog producers are trying to manage their margins right now, based on restraint shown in barrow and gilt dressed weights.

These figures (along with lamb and veal production) put total red meat production for the first quarter of 2016 up 2.8 per cent (unadjusted) compared to 2015.

Broiler meat production for the quarter was up an estimated 3.1 per cent (unadjusted) year-over-year, largely supported by heavier bird weights.

On the other hand, estimated turkey production for the quarter dropped 4.1 per cent (unadjusted) year-over-year.

So, total red meat and poultry production in the first quarter of this year was 2.5 per cent above 2015’s.

Adjusting for the one additional slaughter day this year, the year-over-year increase was 0.9 per cent. Reviewing the past week, corn futures prices found some stability Friday afternoon.

After the Prospective Plantings report was released by USDA-NASS on March 31st, the futures markets reacted quickly and summer corn contracts lost 15 to 16 cents.

On Friday April 1st, they appeared to gain a small share of that back, up 1 to 2 cents for the nearby contracts.

Cash slaughter steer and heifer prices continued to slip last week. This past Friday morning trade saw slaughter steers averaging $133 per cwt. live. This was down almost $3 from the previous Friday.

Last week’s Oklahoma City feeder cattle report was fairly flat compared to the previous week. Looking ahead, on Wednesday watch for USDA-ERS to release February monthly trade numbers.

Changing topics, on March 31st, the National Restaurant Association published the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) for February. The RPI rose sharply in February and stood at 102.1, up 1.5 per cent from January’s level.

The report said the extra day in February (“leap day”) significantly benefited restaurant sales and customer traffic for the month.

According to the report, the RPI consists of two components – the Current Situation Index, which measures current trends, and the Expectations Index which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook.

The Current Situation Index was at 102.8 in February, up 3.1 per cent from January. February was the first time in seven months that a majority of restaurant operators reported positive customer traffic levels, compared to a year ago.

If no adjustment was made for the additional day in February of this year, compared to last year, the daily average rate of traffic levels through stores during February of 2016 compared to a year ago is overstated.

The Expectations Index stood at 101.4 in February, down slightly from 101.5 in January. However, it still stood above 100 which indicates a generally positive outlook among restaurant operators.


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