Overall Meat Supply Tightening

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

■ The July World Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report reduced meat availability by almost one pound per person for the remainder of 2021, and another 1.1 pounds per person for 2022. While lower supplies should increase prices at both ends of the supply chain, Consumer Sentiment dropped by 5.5 percent in July. The decline is said to be due to a combination of inflation concerns and an increase in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country. It should also be mentioned that, even though Consumer Sentiment is down, it’s still over 11 percent higher than a year ago. The USDA released a Cold Storage Report this week. Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 4 percent from the previous month and down 8 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 4 percent from the previous month and down 7 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 4 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up slightly from last month but down 32 percent from last year.

■ Cattle harvest bounced back after the holiday and were estimated at 653,000 head last week. That total is 7,000 head higher than last year. Overall cattle harvest is 4.7 percent higher than year-to-date compared to 2020. This is good news as we work through the end of the fed cattle backlog that began last spring.  Friday (7/23) will see the release of a USDA Cattle on Feed Report. Some estimates put cattle placed in feedlots 6 percent lower than June last year. Lower carcass weights, harvest sustained at or above 650,000 head, tightening supply, and continued strong beef demand are all expected to help improve cattle prices in the weeks ahead. Cow harvest has been running significantly higher than last year – evidence of the devastating impact drought is having on the West and the Dakotas. The WASDE report projects fed cattle prices $2.20/cwt higher in 2022 based on lower cattle supply.

■ Hog harvest estimates for last week were 2.280 million hogs and that’s 237,000 head fewer than the same week last year.  Even with last year’s packer capacity challenges, fewer hogs have been harvested year-to-date compared to 2020. Cash hogs were higher last week as packers are forced to bid higher given the lower supply of market ready hogs. The WASDE report predicted pork exports in 2022 to be level with 2021. Germany’s first case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in a farm herd has been found. ASF had only been found in the feral hog population until now. The spread from wild to domesticated hogs is concerning and has US pork producers concerned about a similar situation happening here. The National Pork Board has announced an upcoming mythbusters campaign including videos with Emmy award winning actor Eric Stonestreet who played Cameron Tucker on the ABC sitcom Modern Family.  He raised pigs and competed as a 4-H member, showing hogs at the county fair.

■ Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought 110.00 to 126.00/cwt. There were a handful of cattle that sold to $130.00/cwt again this week. Choice and Prime Holstein steers were steady, bringing $92.00 to $111.00/cwt. There were some packages of Holstein steers selling from 111.00/cwt to $116.00. Silage fed, under finished or heavy dairy breed steers brought $70.00 to $94.00/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were mostly $90.00 to $118.00/cwt. Cows were lower at $40.00 to $60.00/cwt. Blemish free cows in fleshier condition were selling in to the $70.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $42.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were steady at $30.00 to $70.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $100.00/cwt. Beef and beef cross calves brought up to $300.00/cwt. New crop fed lambs sold to $265.00/cwt. Older and heavier sheep and goats nationally have seen stronger demand and higher prices recently due to the Feast of Sacrifice which wraps us this week.

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