According to the USDA's Cold Storage report released on Friday, total meat supplies in freezers were up slightly from the previous month and up 16 percent from last year's levels.
The increase in frozen meat supplies reflect the general liquidation patterns that have been occurring in the livestock sector as this year's crop yields and limitations became increasingly apparent. Harvest began and is proceeding well ahead of seasonal trends. This summer's widespread drought has cut corn, soybean, pasture and silage options for livestock producers across the Midwest, but the impact will reach well beyond those states.
Frozen pork supplies were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 31 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 51 percent from last month and down 9 percent from last year.
In recent weeks, large hog slaughter runs reflect a combination of faster gains due to cooler temperatures as well as producers moving hogs forward and selling at lighter weights. There also is likely more gilts heading to town versus being held for future breeding purposes.
Sow slaugther had kept a fast pace from July through August, as well, but has backed off in recent weeks. The question is whether it will pick up again as the long-term feed-supply becomes clearer, as well as the pork production outlook following the release of this month's Hogs and Pigs Report.
Meat production heading into 2013 is predicted to be down from this year due to drought-induced herd culling, so supplies in cold storage my prove less burdensome than in some years.
Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 7 percent from the previous month but up slightly from last year.