CME: Frozen Meat , Poultry Inventories High

US - USDA’s monthly Cold Storage report indicates that there were strong stocks of meat and poultry protein products in freezers as of 31 December 2012.
calendar icon 24 January 2013
clock icon 5 minute read

That statement could have been made pretty much every month since April but the 12.2 per cent higher inventories as of December 31 represents the largest year-on-year comparison of month-end frozen stocks since they were 13.9 per cent larger back in December 2008.

But note that this comparison is being made to the lowest December stocks since 2003 in 2012. The 2.024 billion pounds of product in freezers this past December 31 is still nearly 10 per cent lower than that the December record level in 2008.

The monthly data appear in the chart at right. Note that all individual species are read off the left axis while the total (represented by the green bars) is read off the right axis. Data for all species and individual cuts for December 31 appear in the table on page 2.

Some highlights of the report are:

  • largest percentage year-on-year increase for any species is for turkey, 295.1 million pounds of which were in freezers on December 31. That is an increase of 40 per cent on last year and 15.6 per cent from last month. Turkey stocks have been moving generally higher for three years now and the November seasonal low point this year was at its highest level since 2004 with the exception of 2008.
  • Stocks of whole birds, which generally account for about one third of turkey stocks, were the biggest factor in the rise of turkey inventories from November and 2012. The 95.2 million pounds of whole birds in freezers was 76 per cent more than last year and 22 per cent more than at the end of November. Breast stocks were 45 per cent larger than last year and 10 per cent larger than in November.
  • Frozen pork inventories, though slightly lower than at the end of November, remain large as well at 554.413 million pounds. That figure is 14.4 per cent larger than last year. This year’s December 31 pork stocks are the second largest ever for December, trailing only those of 2008.
  • The primary culprit in the increase in pork stocks is ribs — an unusual one from a historical standpoint but a continuation of a pattern for 2012. The 109.35 million pounds of ribs in freezers is 48 per cent higher than last year and 6 per cent higher than last month. The quantity is record large and represents about 20 per cent of total pork stocks. The 35.394 million pounds INCREASE in frozen rib stocks accounted for about half of the increase in total pork in freezers versus one year ago.
  • Ham stocks remain large relative to last year (+47 per cent) but the 81.9 million pounds in freezers on December 31 was 16.2 per cent lower than just one month ago so it appears that holiday ham movement was good. Bone-in stocks are down sharply from last month (-41 per cent) at 28.2 million pounds.

  • Chicken supplies continue to run significantly higher than one year ago with December 31 stocks coming in at 679.3 million pounds, up 7.9 per cent yr/yr. That total is also just over 1 per cent larger than at the end of November.
  • The primary culprits for chicken stocks remain leg products which generally go to export markets. Inventories of every hind quarter product except thighs and thigh quarters were sharply higher than last year. The total stock of leg quarters, legs, thigh and thigh quarters and thigh meat on December 31 was 138.293 million pounds, 9.3 per cent higher than last year.
  • Breast and breast meat stocks were quite close to year-ago levels and 5 per cent higher than last month.
  • The 69.4 million pounds of wings in freezers was 68 per cent higher than last year. The combination of higher production (chicken output was larger than one year ago in 11 of 13 Q4-2012 weeks and was up 3.8 per cent, yr/yr, for the quarter based on weekly data), these sharply higher stocks and record-high prices of over $2/lb. clearly point to remarkable demand for chicken wings. This, of course, is normally the seasonal high for chicken wing demand as people prepare for Super Bowl parties (how about those Harbaugh boys, by the way?) but this recent data just reinforces what has been a remarkable year for wings. And the trend shows no signs of stopping — yet.
  • Frozen beef supplies were 5.4 per cent larger than last month but were only 1.8 per cent higher than last year. The year-year comparison for boneless beef, which comprises about 85 per cent of the total in most months, was a bit different with Dec 31 stocks coming in 1.7 per cent lower than last year.

Michael Priestley

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