Meat products

Meat demand continues to be strong, according to the USDA’s most recent Cold Storage report.

Inventories were near or below pre-report expectations, says economist Len Steiner and associates.

“The data provides additional confirmation that consumer demand for meat is on a positive growth track,” they wrote in a Daily Livestock Report.

Frozen beef supplies were unchanged in November but up 6 percent from a year ago, with the increase coming in the form of boneless trim.

“This is consistent with the expansion in cow slaughter this year that is usually marketed in boneless form,” Steiner and associates said. “During October and November, beef production sourced from cows and bulls was up 6 percent from the same period in 2017, or about 40 million pounds.”

Frozen beef inventory over the past two months grew by 11 million pounds, suggesting trimming usage increased by close to 30 million pounds, according to the report.

“Another factor to consider in this calculation is imported beef supplies, and in October beef imports were down 12 million pounds from a year earlier, which could be filled by domestic cow and bull beef production, thereby limiting an increase in frozen beef holdings,” Steiner and associates said.

Frozen pork inventory was up 1 percent from a year ago. A total of 63 million pounds of frozen pork was moved in October, down 33 million pounds from a year ago.

“Since 2012, the pork industry has not let cold storage holding fall below 490 million pounds, so the 508 million pounds of pork in freezers at the start of December may be in line with balanced, or even tight inventories going into 2019,” Steiner and associates said.

Declining frozen chicken supplies came as a surprise. That supply was down 5 million pounds in November, the first decline for that month since 2011.

Frozen leg quarters dropped by 20 million pounds, while frozen breast meat numbers were up by 2 million pounds.

Despite those numbers, frozen chicken supplies were up 4 percent from a year ago, according to the USDA.

Frozen wing numbers were up a whopping 31 percent in November.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.