US ends 2015 with more meat in storage

03 February 2016

The volume of meat in US cold storage facilities at the end of 2015 was higher than one year previously, according to the latest USDA Cold Storage report. Despite this, the Steiner Consulting Group is reading the figures as neutral to bullish/positive for the meat industry.

The total volume of meat in storage was 960,000 tonnes, 14.4% higher than the close of 2014, led by much larger volumes of chicken, up 21%, and beef, up 16%. All other categories were also higher, including pork, up 8%, turkey, up 3%, and lamb/mutton, up 22%.

While these year-on-year figures may indicate that meat supplies are building and becoming harder to shift through the supply chain, the movements from the end of November seem to indicate that meat was clearing storage at better rates than normal for this time of year.

Beef inventories increase by around 4% during December (average of the past five years), but only rose 1% in December 2015. Pork in storage was down 3% through December, despite record high slaughter through the month, indicating good demand. Within the pork category, there was a very large decline in hams, which fell 38% from the November volume, while bellies rose by 30%, when they historically rise by 50-60% over this time.

The chicken storage situation, according to Steiner, remains burdensome, but is not getting worse at the moment. There are still very large volumes in storage, but a decline through December was the first decline in a number of months.

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