U.S. frozen-pork stockpiles were 23 percent lower at the end of May than a year ago, according to Businessweek. Reductions in the U.S. swine herd due to financial losses over the last 30 months have led to declines in meat production.

Warehouses held 448.3 million pounds of pork on May 31, down from 584.5 million a year earlier when supplies were the highest on record for the month. The information was released by the USDA on Tuesday. Inventories fell 7.3 percent from the end of April.

Pork producers have slashed herds after losing money because of high feed costs in 2008 and declining pork demand because of recession and H1N1 flu in 2009. U.S. commercial pork production may have shrunk by 5.7 percent in May from a year earlier, said Bob Brown, an independent market analyst in Edmond, Okla.

“Production has been down quite a bit and that’s making people draw stocks out” of the freezers, Brown said. “We’re coming off of a couple years of the most horrific profitability issues in pork production in a long time.”

U.S. warehouse supplies of ham fell 3.4 percent from a year earlier to 92 million pounds, according to USDA’s report. Inventories of pork bellies plunged 44 percent to 43.7 million pounds.

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Source: Business