April 23, 2012
Pork supplies in the US were 6.7% higher on March 31 than a year earlier, according to the government.
Warehouses held 612.7 million pounds of pork at the end of March, up from 574.4 million on March 31, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Inventories fell 1.6% from the end of February. Beef supplies rose 14% from a year earlier to 507.9 million pounds, breaking the record for the date set in 1977, the USDA said.
U.S. commercial pork output in the three months through March 31 totaled 5.858 billion pounds (2.7 million metric tonnes), up 2.4% from 2011, government data show. Wholesale pork prices, a gauge of demand, fell 5.8% in March, the sixth straight monthly decline, according to the USDA.
"If we see a month-to-month increase, it would signal that demand was poor," Dan Vaught, the owner of Vaught Futures Insights, said in a telephone interview from Altus, Arkansas, before the report. Consumers may have been deterred by high retail prices, he said.
Boneless ham averaged US$3.735 a pound at the supermarket in March, the highest since at least 1991, government data show. Prices are up 5.7% from a year ago.
Hog futures for June settlement fell 1.4% to 87.55 cents a pound at 12:59 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Before today, the most-active contract rose 5.3% this year.
As of March 31, stockpiles of pork bellies, which are cured and sliced to make bacon, surged 26% from a year earlier to 66.1 million pounds, according to today's report. Warehouse supplies of ham plunged 26% to 77.9 million pounds.
Chicken-meat inventories at the end of March were 17% smaller than a year earlier at 577 million pounds, the USDA said.