Cold storage supplies for beef and pork continue to remain stable as the industry moves product rapidly domestically and overseas.
USDA’s recent Cold Storage report showed beef levels remain unchanged, while frozen pork supplies are down 5 percent from a year ago. Conversely, frozen chicken supplies are up 1 percent, while turkey is up 14 percent.
“Even with the very large tonnage being produced, most products have continued to flow through the marketing chains at a brisk pace, and stocks have not increased year-over-year,” says an analysis from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.
Lamb and mutton stocks are down 11 percent from a year ago, while sluggish veal sales have resulted in an 83 percent jump in frozen stocks.
The stability in beef stocks comes as more fed cattle head to market and dairy cow slaughter continues to increase. Those numbers jumped by 9 percent in August from 2016 levels.
“Dairy cow slaughter has been up from a year earlier in every month this year except for February (due to the leap year influence last year),” LMIC says.
Over the first eight months of 2017, slaughter is up 4 percent from a year ago and is on pace to reach 3 million head by the end of the year. This would be the largest number since 2013, according to LMIC.
“At the beginning of the year, the milk cow herd was pegged at 9.349 million head, up less than 0.5 percent from a year earlier,” LMIC says. “In August, the number of cows being milked was up almost 1 percent from 2016. The last two months have seen the milk cow herd increase by 1,000 head, which compares to an 8,000-cow increase during the same months a year ago.”
This comes as dairy producers received mixed signals from the marketplace. LMIC says dairy product demand has been somewhat stagnant recently. Milk prices have been up slightly in recent months, but far below prices in the summer of 2014.
“Cheese prices so far in September have been under pressure, suggesting that the Class III milk price for this month will be moving lower,” LMIC says.
Milk production was up 2 percent in July and August, while fluid milk sales in July were down 2 percent from a year ago.
“This leaves more milk to go through the butter, cheese, powder and other dairy product markets,” LMIC says. “Cheese production was up 1 percent in July, but this matches up against American-type cheese usage that was down 4 percent and non-American type cheese usage that was down 3 percent from the prior July.”
This drove cold storage stocks for cheese to record-breaking levels by the end of July, according to LMIC.