Beef Pork Poultry and Dairy

Cold storage stocks continue to grow, according to the USDA’s recent report.

Total red meat in storage in February was up 2% from a year ago, while poultry supplies remained the same. Cheese frozen stocks also increased by 4%, with butter storage down 9%.

Chicken stock figures were noteworthy, according to an analysis from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

“Chicken in commercial freezers was one of the more interesting aspects of the latest Cold Storage report,” the center says. “Many of the products that typically go to export markets had year-over-year declines. Legs and leg quarters were both down 25%, and paws/feet were down 6%. Wings declined by 8% year-over-year and other chicken was down by 2%.

“Most of the other categories continued to post year-over-year gains compared to 2018. Whole broilers were up 38%, and hen tonnage was 65% above a year ago. Both of those categories increased from the previous month by more than 7%. Drumsticks and thighs increased to 133% and 120%, respectively, over 2018.”

Frozen beef supplies were down nearly 31 million pounds from January, but were still 4% higher than a year ago. Pork cold storage grew by 1% and saw increases in several cuts.

“Pork butt is the category increasing the most, totaling 25.3 million pounds, rising nearly 5 million pounds from last month and up about 2.5 million from last year,” the LMIC says.

“Only one category of pork posted a month-over-month drop — variety meats. Variety meats are still above a year ago by 5%, but January to February had a very small decline. Hams and ribs are the largest pork cuts by volume in cold storage, and they are 10% and 8% higher than last year.”

Butter and nonfat dry milk prices (NFDM) continue to increase in 2019, according to the LMIC. NFDM prices averaged 99.2 cents per pound in February, up 27 cents from a year ago.

February butter prices averaged about $2.27 per pound, 14 cents higher than a year ago. Class IV milk prices averaged $15.86 per hundredweight, the highest since September 2017.

“The key economic underpinning for the current price situation has been a recovery in global milk powder prices and strong consumer demand for butter in the U.S. market,” the center says.

“Milk powder prices in Western Europe were in the mid-90 cent per pound range at the start of the year after averaging 84 cents in the last quarter of 2018. The mid-90 cent value compares with 75 cents in the first quarter of 2018. Rising world milk powder values supported an 18% jump in U.S. exports of milk powder in 2018.”

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