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CME: Pork Inventories Down at End of June

US - The total inventory of beef, pork and poultry in cold storage as of 30 June was estimated at 2.276 billion pounds, 0.9 per cent higher than a year ago and 3.9 per cent higher than the five year average, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 23 July 2013
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While meat protein stocks remain above year ago levels, high prices for a number of meat items, especially for pork, have encouraged some inventory depletion, with stocks down 2.8 per cent from the previous month.

Total pork inventories at the end of June were 564.9 million pounds, 4.7 per cent lower than the previous year but still about 8.3 per cent higher than the five year average. Pork stocks normally decline in June but this year the month to month change in pork inventories was 14.3 per cent, the largest volume depletion in 20 years.

Pork inventories declined even as the inventory of hams, which account for more than a quarter of all pork in storage, actually were higher than the previous month. Ham stocks have increased steadily since April and at 161.1 million pounds they are now 9.3 per cent higher than a year ago and 27.4 per cent higher than the five year average.

Low prices this spring encouraged some end users to put product away for later in the fall. Some also speculate that the increase in ham inventories corresponds to an improvement in export demand. Record high pork belly prices in June drove a sharp liquidation in pork belly inventories. Total pork belly stocks were pegged at just 42.7 million pounds at the end of June, down 22 per cent from the previous month.

Belly stocks are now 12.8 per cent lower than last year and almost 25 per cent smaller than the five year average. With pork belly prices rising to all time record highs, and given the seasonal tendency for bellies to be lower after 1 September, belly owners likely saw an opportune time to sell high. Pork belly prices have been quite volatile in recent weeks but current prices remain at historically high levels.

June is also the time of year when end users empty their freezers of the pork ribs that they have accumulated in the previous six months. Rib inventories in June were 56.8 million pounds, down 37.7 per cent from the previous month and now 21 per cent lower than a year ago. Inventories of pork loins at 29.2 million pounds were down 7 per cent compared to a year ago and sharply lower than May levels.

Pork trim inventories were 48.3 million pounds, down 18.4 per cent from the previous month but still about 4 per cent higher than a year ago and 5 per cent higher than the five year average. High trim prices so far in July mean that we could very well see pork trim inventories tumble further in July.