U.S. frozen beef, pork supplies down month-over-month in July as export demand surged, pushed prices to near record highs; frozen chicken stocks up

LOS ANGELES , August 23, 2011 () – U.S. pork and beef supplies in the country’s warehouse freezers dropped in July, while the chicken stockpile grew, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly cold storage report, Dow Jones Newswires reported Aug. 23.

According to the report, supplies of the three major proteins remain above levels last year, but an oversupply of chicken has driven down wholesale prices, while strong export demand has pushed beef and pork prices to near record highs.

The report is a reflection of the broad market attitude toward the proteins, as exports of beef and pork have surged and demand for poultry has stagnated despite the industry’s move toward greater output last year.

For the first half of the year, U.S. beef exports are up 25% from last year, while pork shipments are up 14%. Chicken exports are down 1.8% for the year through June 11.

The USDA’s report helps to gauge the strength of demand, according to U.S. Commodities Inc. president Don Roose. Despite each protein showing inventories greater than last year’s levels, beef and pork demand is strong enough to push inventories down though the same is not true for poultry, Roose said.

The reductions in beef and pork supplies also point to the pivotal role exports play in keeping prices up for the premium meats.

As of July 31, U.S. supplies of pork on cold storage were 453.9 million pounds, down 8% from a month ago, but up 16% year-over-year. The amount fell short of the 457.2 million pound average prediction in a survey conducted by Dow Jones Newswire. Pork stock declines are typically strong in July as hogs gain less weight in the hot weather, slowing the supplies being sent to freezers.

U.S. frozen beef supplies were 418.1 million pounds July 31, down 3% from last month but up 8% year-over-year. The amount was well below the average prediction of 443.7 million pounds.

In July, chicken supplies were up 1% from the month prior, and 14% year-over-year, while total poultry supplies including duck and turkey were up 2%. Total chicken supplies in cold storage were 764.4 million pounds, according to the USDA.

Swelling supplies and depressed prices have hurt the chicken industry and all but destroyed the profits of processors.

The primary source of this article is Dow Jones Newswires, New York, New York, on Aug. 23, 2011.

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