Shoppers should resist the temptation to hoard meat amid the latest coronavirus mitigation efforts as supplies are adequate heading into the holidays.
In fact, commercial red meat production actually increased 1.3% to 46.1 billion pounds from January through October, compared to the same stretch last year, as higher dressed weights offset a reduction in cattle slaughter numbers.
Cattle processing totaled 27.3 million head the first 10 months, down 2.7%, but dressed weights increased by an average of 21 pounds (2.6%).
“The overall meat supply is still running higher than last year. This is an issue a lot of people might be surprised about,” Rich Nelson director of research at Allendale Inc., told FarmWeek. “As far as the virus issue (among workers), we’ve yet to see any major plants close so far through fall and winter.”
Year-to-date hog slaughter totaled 109.1 million head through October, up 1.7% from last year, with dressed weights up by an average of 4 pounds (1.9%), authors of the CME Group’s Daily Livestock Report noted of USDA’s latest red meat production numbers.
USDA’s latest cattle on feed report pegged the Nov. 1 inventory at 11.97 million head, up 1% from last year and the highest total for the month since the statistical series began in 1996. The estimate, however, came in below trade expectations.
Meanwhile, placements in feedlots totaled just 2.19 million head in October, down 11% from a year ago, which breaks a string of four months in a row of higher placements.
“Overall, these are good numbers to see from USDA,” Nelson said. “The bottom line is we will be transitioning from a well- supplied market the first half of next year into maybe some lighter numbers into summer and the early fall period next year.”
Nelson believes cash cattle prices could advance from the narrow range of $109 to $110.
Marketings of fed cattle totaled 1.87 million head in this month’s report, down slightly from a year ago.