The USDA released its April “Cold Storage” report last Friday, revealing that total red meat supplies remain tight at 969.3 million pounds on March 31, 2021, down 6.0% from the prior month and 16.6% lower than a year ago.
Pork in cold storage, at 451.8 million pounds, was down 26.8% from the same period last year and down 26.0% below the five-year average. The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) said each product category posted year-over year-declines, except for bone-in loins which rose 10.0% to 21.4 million pounds. Bellies showed the sharpest decline, down 54.9% decline from last year to 35.3 million pounds. Total hams in storage were 60.7 million pounds, down 31.3% from last year and 34.2% lower than last month. LMIC said the decline was likely the result of an earlier Easter this year. Spareribs, butts, and picnic were at 101.4, 18.7, and 7.5 million pounds, respectively, down 23.5%, 32.3%, and 30.2%, respectively.
Total beef in cold storage dropped 5.6% in March, to 483.7 million pounds. This was also 3.7% lower than 2020. LMIC reported both boneless beef and beef cuts fell 3.4% and 8.5%, respectively, from last year to 451.3 and 32.3 million pounds.
“The tighter supplies of beef in cold storage are helping support the boxed beef cutout value which has risen 32.3%, or $66.69/cwt., from the start of the year to $273.42/cwt. in mid-April.”
According to LMIC, total poultry stocks only rose marginally by 0.1% over last month to nearly 1.1 billion pounds but were 16.6% below 2020.
Total chicken in cold storage was 19.5% below year-ago levels to 740.3 million pounds, the lowest level since June 2015. Broilers dropped 35.3% from last year to 13.1 million pounds but rose 7.8% from last month. Thigh meat fell 46.3% to 19.2 million pounds, which LMIC said was the lowest level since September 2017. Year-over-year declines were also seen in breast meat, leg quarters, and wings, each dropping 10.0%, 28.7%, and 31.3%, respectively, to 203.9, 57.8, and 36.9 million pounds, respectively. Total turkey stocks fell 9.6% to 350.4 million pounds.
Dairy products were almost 1.5 billion pounds, up 2.1% from last month and 6.7% higher than 2020. Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on March 31, 2021 were up 2% from the previous month and up 7% from March 2020. Butter stocks were up slightly from last month and up 15% from a year ago.