US cold stores of meat still high

25 November 2015

There was still a historically large volume of meat in storage in the US at the end of October, according to the latest Cold Storage report from the US Department of Agriculture. This is likely to account for at least part of the significant downturn in meat prices this year, especially for beef.

The amount of beef in cold stores at the end of October was 3% higher than at the end of September, and 34% higher than a year before – mostly boneless beef, which is probably due to very large imports over summer, including Australian lean beef. There has also been an increase in US domestic slaughter, which the Steiner Consulting group suggests would have increased the volume of fat trim.

Volumes in storage could decrease through to the end of the year, with Australian and New Zealand exports both limited by quota restrictions. An increase in consumer demand for beef would also draw more stock through, but very low prices for poultry are limiting that potential demand growth.

Chicken in storage is similarly high, but this is in broken carcases, rather than whole birds, which are actually lower than last year. This reflects the impact of overseas bans on US poultry as a result of avian influenza last northern winter, and higher production in 2015 (higher slaughter at heavier weights). While this situation remains, poultry prices will remain subdued, and continue to have an impact on the beef market.

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