There should be more good news for pork and beef supplies in USDA’s Cold Storage Report scheduled for release tomorrow at 2 p.m. Central time.
Freezer stocks of both meats are down this year after producers, trying to stem extended losses mostly from high feed costs, trimmed back their herds. Analysts believe that activity continued in to March.
At the end of February, frozen pork supplies totaled 516.8 million pounds, down 17 percent from the same period in 2009, according to USDA. Pork bellies, used to make bacon, were down 27 percent, at 55.6 million pounds.
Frozen beef supplies totaled 401.6 million pounds at the end of February, down 8 percent.
Market hog runs are down this year as producers contracted herds. Through the end of last week, meatpackers processed 32.3 million pigs so far in 2010, down 4.5 percent from the same period in 2009, according to USDA data.
Chicken supplies have also shrunk, with total frozen stocks down about 4 percent at the end of February, at 624.3 million pounds. One recent turn of events could mean more U.S. poultry will remain at home as Chinese officials this week indicated they would cut U.S. poultry imports by half.
The recessionary hangover persists for the nation’s dairy industry, however, as total cheese stockpiles swelled to 983.6 million pounds by late February, up 10 percent from the same period in 2009, according to USDA data. Some dairy traders and analysts believe cheese supplies may top 1 billion pounds soon, if they haven’t already.
Heavy supplies reflect “very weak” restaurant business and slower holiday sales in 2009, said Andrew Novakovic, an agricultural economics professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
“Typically, cheese stocks peak in the summer, following heavy production in late spring or early summer, and then dissipate through the fall holiday seasons,” Novakovic indicates. “Last year that didn't happen so much, and early 2010 is simply picking up where 2009 ended.”