CME: Hog, Cattle Futures Start Week on High Note

US - Cattle and hog futures started the week on a high note as optimism in outside markets spilled over and lifted values across the board, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 15 June 2010
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And while livestock futures have been caught in a bit of a rut recently, we thought it would be important to again highlight how tight beef and pork supplies are expected to be not just this year but in 2011 as well. USDA recently updated its supply and demand estimates and the attached charts at the bottom of the page show the estimated per capita disappearance numbers for beef and pork. While there is a tendency to look at disappearance as a measure of demand, it really is just another way to look at the supply, calculated on a per capita basis to eliminate the effect of population growth.

The June WASDE report estimated that per capita beef disappearance in 2010 is now expected to be 58.9 lb./person (retail wt.), 0.7 per cent lower than the May estimate. If the current 2010 beef disappearance estimate materializes, it would represent a 3.7 per cent decline from year ago levels and it would be 9.8 per cent lower than what it was before the recession (2007). US per capita beef disappearance in 2011 is expected to continue to decline and at 58.3 lb./person, it is expected to be 1 per cent lower than the 2010 estimate and 10.7 per cent lower than in 2007. The decline in beef disappearance numbers reflects expectations for much smaller beef production levels this year and next.

USDA lowered the beef production estimate for 2010 by 185 million pounds in June. Beef production in 2010 is expected to be 25.608 billion pounds, 460 million pounds or 1.8 per cent lower than in 2009. Beef production in 2011 will be even smaller, a direct result of a shrinking beef cow herd and the smallest calf crop in over 50 years. USDA currently estimates US beef production in 2011 to be 25.217 billion pounds, 851 million pounds or 3.3 per cent lower than what it was in 2009.

While beef per capita disappearance has been declining for the last three years, the decline in US domestic pork supplies has been both immediate and significant. USDA lowered its latest pork disappearance numbers for 2010 by 0.4 per cent and the 2010 estimate represents a whopping 6.6 per cent decline from 2009 levels.

Current pork prices may have caught many by surprise but they reflect the fact that domestic end users suddenly face a significantly smaller supply available at the same time that domestic demand has been recovering. Per capita pork disappearance is expected to improve somewhat in 2011 but it will still remain notably lower than the levels seen in the past decade. Pork production in 2011 is currently expected to increase by 2.6 per cent but a large part of that increase will be offset by ever increasing exports, expected to reach 4.6 billion pounds in 2011 and account for a fifth of all US pork output.

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