CME: Notable Reductions Seen in Pork, Beef and Poultry Outputs

US - USDA the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its latest estimates of US beef, pork and poultry production for March, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 30 April 2013
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The data showed notable reductions in output for all three main species but it is important to note that there was one less marketing day in March 2013 compared to March 2012, which tended to skew the results. When adjusting for the calendar mismatch, the supply picture appears less bullish. A brief recap of the highlights:

Beef: Total cattle slaughter was 2.585 million head, 6.1 per cent lower than the previous year. However, the average weekday slaughter in March was 123,114 head, 1.6 per cent lower than a year ago. Cattle carcass weight increases appear to be leveling off, with the average cattle carcass weight in March pegged at 792 pounds, 0.5 per cent over a year ago. Cattle carcass weights rose by 2.3 per cent in 2012. Total commercial beef production in March was 2.038 billion pounds, 5.6 per cent lower than a year ago. Average daily beef supplies in March were about 97.1 million lb//day, 1.1 per cent lower than the previous year. Beef production is slowly declining but the cutbacks are not significant enough yet to propel beef prices to new record highs, especially given significant demand headwinds so far this year.

Pork: Hog slaughter in March was estimated to be 9.318 million head, 2.1 per cent smaller than a year ago. But when adjusting for the difference in weekdays from last year, the average daily hog slaughter at 443,752 head was 2.5 per cent larger than a year ago. While the number of hogs coming to market in March in a given weekday was higher than a year ago, the lower hog carcass weights helped keep production levels in check. Total pork production for March was 1.932 billion pounds, 2.8 per cent lower than a year ago. The average supply of pork coming to market in a weekday was 92 million pounds, 1.9 per cent larger than last year. Daily pork output has been constrained since last fall (see chart) but lower feed costs and more pigs per litter should help bring more hogs/ pork to market later in the year.

Broiler supplies have increased in recent months. The industry is reaping the rewards of sharply reducing supplies in late 2011 and 2012. Improved demand at both retail and foodservice also has supported prices. Broiler production in March was 2.998 billion pounds, 1.5 per cent smaller than a year ago. Adjusted for the one less weekday, broiler production actually rose 3.2 per cent in March.

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