US - The production stories of the three major meat protein species are considerably different so far in 2015, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
Total meat and poultry production (including also turkey) so far this year is up 2.1 per cent from one year ago but none of the individual species number is even close to that average.
All have been plagued by sluggish demand at the wholesale level due to the West Coast port slowdown but, as we detailed last week, that slowdown has had markedly different impacts across the species.
It was almost entirely negative for pork but, due to our much more balanced beef trade, both positive and negative for beef. It certainly had a negative impact on chicken dark meat prices but breast and wing prices have largely compensated for that.
Pork output, of course, has been much larger than expected almost from the get?go this year and is up 5.6 per cent year?to?date.
The increase is primarily attributable to slaughter (ie. the number of animals) and calls into question USDA’s estimate last fall of the Jun?Aug pig crop. Those pigs would, generally, have accounted for slaughter from December 1 to date and USDA said there was 1.1 per cent FEWER of them than there was one year ago. But, based on weekly data, slaughter has been 1.6 per cent higher since December 1, year?on?year, and 2.1 per cent higher than what we had expected from the Decem? ber Hogs and Pigs report. While weights have been falling quickly, they re? main higher than last year thus adding to the increase in animal numbers.
The March Hogs and Pigs report survey hits the field this week. The report will be released on March 27 and it will be very interesting to see if USDA concludes that pig crop estimate was too low. We think it might have been a bit low but we still think the surge of hog numbers has been driven largely by producers’ efforts to sell before prices fell further and to free up finishing space to handle higher?than?expected weaned pig survival rates given the surprisingly mild hit of PEDv this winter.
The beef situation is almost perfectly the opposite: Feeders and packers are in a money?losing standoff as the cattle get bigger and bigger. So far, the lower number of cattle actually sold has offset higher weights and beef output is lower for the year but we still fear that a lot of long?fed, big cattle will come to town this spring. “Feed ‘em till the price comes back” hardly ever works and we don’t think it will this time either. We are enter? ing the traditional time of seasonally low slaughter but have to wonder whether that will be the case this year.
Broiler production is all about those weights! Year?to?date slaughter is up only 1 per cent from 2014 but weights have added nearly 3.5 per cent to total output. Higher egg sets (3 per cent ) and chick placements (3.5 per cent ) suggest that slaughter numbers will grow in weeks to come so year?on?year production changes of 4 to 5 per cent will be no surprise as we get into April. With breast and wing prices holding, there is little pressure at present to slow that growth.
ERRATA: We neglected to update the year?to?date figures for slaughter and production in yesterday’s Production and Price Summary table. A corrected table appears on page 2. We pull these numbers each week from USDA’s LS 712 (Estimated Weekly Meat Production Under Feder? al Inspection) and PY017 (Weekly Poultry Slaughtered Under Federal Inspection) reports. The year?to?date figures in the table are based on daily data so they don’t agree precisely with the YTD figures in the charts at right which are based on weekly data.
You can view the full report by clicking here.
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