USDA issues March Cold Storage report

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

USDA issues March Cold Storage report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) has released the Cold Storage report detailing March stocks for meat, poultry and dairy products.

Stocks of cheese were relatively uneventful – up slightly from last month and down slightly from last year. Butter, however, showed a 6% increase from last month and a 2% increase from a year ago. Butter prices last week were $2.92 per pound wholesale and have been above $2.70 per pound for most of the year.

The strong increase in butter in cold storage could potentially point to export staging. Butter exports have been down 33% across January and February of this year. However, given the strength in butter prices, it does not appear the cold storage build is related to demand weakness.

Frozen stocks of chicken were down 11% from last year with many cuts experiencing below a year ago comparisons. Broiler wholesale cut prices have shown price strength as of late and March cold storage is supportive of prices staying elevated. A few products showed growth relative to last month, with the most burdensome being thigh and thigh quarters (+10%) but those are typically heavy export products and may be staged for shipments.

Turkey in cold storage was down 14% but 16% higher from the previous month. Turkey parts were mixed with several categories showing strong increases – mechanically deboned meat up 55% from last year, followed by breast meat stocks up 39%.

Red meat in cold storage was down 12% from last year with beef down 9%, pork down 13%, veal down 66%, and lamb down 13%. Boneless beef slipped 10%, while beef cuts fell 19% from a year ago. Pork cuts were down across the board except for boneless loins, up 14% and variety meats up 20%.

The U.S. pork situation has a few confounding variables, with a smaller breeding herd but larger pigs per littler on top of a relatively new marketing environment with Prop 12 legislation being in full effect.

Exports too have been strong this year. Hog prices have largely been higher than last year as have pork prices. At least for the moment it appears as if Prop 12 has not affected the market to the degree that was initially thought as food service businesses find workarounds using compliant product.

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