Meat Production Up; Cold Storage Down for Beef, Pork Up

Beef on display in a Publix grocery store in Atlanta.
( Wyatt Bechtel )

Frozen stocks of meat and poultry products show some diverging trends, especially when considered in the context of increasing U.S. production levels. In January and February, according to the latest Livestock Slaughter report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. output of beef was up 5.2% year-over-year. Beef production was the largest for those two months since 2008. January-February U.S. pork output this year increased 5.0% from a year ago and was record-large for that time frame. Chicken output also was record-large for those two months and rose 3.4% year-over-year.

Even with large production levels, the U.S. frozen beef stock amount (per NASS monthly Cold Storage report) at the end of February was below a year earlier. As of February 28th, beef in cold storage dropped 8.4% year-over-year, reaching the lowest amount for that date since 2014. Frozen pork tonnage increased compared to the low level of a year ago, but remained below the prior 5-year average. Further, at the end of February, pork tonnage was the second lowest since 2011. Chicken in cold storage exceeded 900 million pounds for the first time in any month and posted a year-over-year jump of 15.2%.

Red meat, especially beef, continues to move briskly through the marketing chain. But, chicken has struggled in that regard.

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