Bloomberg News

U.S. Pork Supply Rises 8.5% as Production Increases, USDA Says

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Pork stockpiles in the U.S. rose 8.5 percent at the end of January from a year earlier as production increased, the government said.

Warehouses held 584.4 million pounds of the meat, up from 538.8 million on Jan. 31, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Inventories were up 21 percent from the end of December.

U.S. commercial pork output last year totaled 22.8 billion pounds (10.3 million metric tons), up 1.4 percent from 2010, the USDA said. On Jan. 11, wholesale-pork prices reached 83.12 cents a pound, the lowest since in almost a year, and wholesale-ham prices declined 6 percent last month, the fourth straight drop, government data show.

“Late 2011 and early 2012 production was quite large, thereby implying an excess of pork available,” Dan Vaught, the owner of Vaught Futures Insights in Altus, Arkansas, said in an e-mailed report before the USDA numbers were released. “Finally, my sources indicate hams didn’t sell very well during the year-end holiday season, with some stores reportedly forced to feature hams again in January to get them sold.”

Hog futures for April settlement rose 0.9 percent to 90.65 cents a pound at 12:54 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Before today, the price gained 6.6 percent this year.

As of Jan. 31, stockpiles of pork bellies, which are cured and sliced to make bacon, rose 4.6 percent from a year earlier to 53.7 million pounds, according to today’s report. Warehouse supplies of ham fell 1.1 percent from a year earlier to 100.4 million pounds.

Chicken-meat inventories at the end of January were 21 percent smaller than a year earlier at 609.8 million pounds, the USDA said. Beef supplies climbed 4.4 percent to 482.1 million pounds.

--Editors: Daniel Enoch, Millie Munshi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.


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