Red meat decline in Cold Storage report ‘unsurprising

Red meat production has declined over the past year, according to the USDA’s October Cold Storage report.

Over the same period, poultry numbers were even as were dairy numbers, according to an analysis from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

Beef stocks were down 13%, while pork stocks were down 14%, according to the USDA.

“Most cuts across the pork complex were shy of last year, with spare-ribs (-36%) and bellies (-31%) showing the largest declines,” the LMIC said. “Bone-in loins was the only year-over-year increase, up 11% from last year. Beef cuts and boneless beef were both down more than 10%.”

Veal numbers were down 1 million pounds in October for only the third time in history, all of which have taken place in 2023. Lamb and mutton in cold storage dropped 9% from last year.

All chicken prices were up, at 11% for broilers and 58% for hens, while whole Tom turkeys fell 3%.

“Parts were a different story on the turkey side, with every category posting year-on-year growth,” the LMIC said. “The largest increase was mechanically de-boned turkey up almost 200% from a year ago, followed by breast meat, up 82%. Chicken parts were largely lower than last year, with the exception of chicken breast, up 6%.”

The LMIC said red meat numbers were about what was expected.

“Red meat numbers are unsurprising as production is mostly down across all categories,” the center said. “Similarly, many of the poultry categories are showing strong rebounds from last year’s decimated HPAI figures.

“Broiler pieces are perhaps the exception. Broiler production has been below last year since about July and the cold storage numbers are reflecting generally lower production overall. HPAI is hitting turkey again this year but hasn’t had nearly the same impact as production figures were up strongly all summer.”

Cattle on feed numbers continue to grow, according to the USDA’s most recent report. Numbers were up 1.7% from a year ago to more than 11.9 million head.

“Cattle marketed in October totaled nearly 1.8 million head, down 46,000 head or 2.5% from a year earlier,” the LMIC said. “This was largely in line with pre-report estimates which were expecting a decline ranging from down 1.5% to down 2.8% with an average estimate of down 2.”