Cow/Calf Corner... Plenty of Beef for Independence Day

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

In anticipation of July 4, estimated beef production for the week ending June 27 was 562.3 million pounds, up 5.3 percent year over year.  This was based on estimated weekly slaughter of 680,000 head, 1.5 percent over year ago levels and includes an estimated Saturday slaughter of 82,000 head, up 39 percent year over year. The large Saturday slaughter was scheduled for last week since the holiday this week is on Saturday.  The actual slaughter and beef production data for the week ending June 13, confirmed that beef production exceeded year ago production levels by 0.7 percent, the first year over year weekly beef production increase since the first week of April.
   
After the disappointing shortages and high beef prices during Memorial Day, the improved beef situation for this grilling holiday is a great relief.  Grocery stores should be well stocked in time for July 4 and retail prices are adjusting down rapidly.  For individual stores, it may depend on their particular supply arrangements.  Retail price adjustments are following rapid decreases in wholesale beef prices.  Choice boxed beef prices increased from a pre-COVID-199 level of $208.14/cwt. on March 13 to a daily peak of $475.39 on April 12 and back to $207.17/cwt. last Friday, June 26. 
   
Other meat is plentiful as well.  The June Hog and Pig report pegged the total hog inventory at 79.6 million head, up 5.2 percent year over year. Table 1 shows forecasts for increased pork production through 2020, with a brief modest contraction in early 2021.  The broiler industry decreased placement of chicks in finishing barns in April and May, which will lead to a modest decrease in broiler production in the third quarter.  However, total production for beef, pork and broilers is projected to increase to a new annual record in 2020 (Table 1).   Current forecasts for 2021 project a decrease in annual beef production but continued increases in pork and broiler production leading to another record level of total meat production.  
    
Table 1. U.S. Meat Production*, million pounds.
 
Quarter/
Year
2019
2020
% change
2019-2020
2021
Beef
I
6414
6929
+8.0
6608
 
II
6817
6046
-11.3
6605
 
III
6923
7315
+5.7
6817
 
IV
7001
7115
+1.6
6817
 
Annual
27155
27405
+0.6
26847
Pork
I
6817
7426
+8.9
7126
 
II
6606
6332
-4.2
6850
 
III
6670
7093
+6.3
7285
 
IV
7445
7618
+2.3
7835
 
Annual
27538
28468
+3.4
29095
Broiler
I
10273
11116
+8.2
10872
 
II
10827
10871
+0.4
10744
 
III
11280
10884
-3.5
11431
 
IV
11055
11283
+2.1
11262
 
Annual
43435
44155
+1.7
44310
Total Red Meat and Poultry^
Annual
104718
106737
+1.9
107042
*2020 Q2 projected; 2020 Q3 forward forecast; ^Total includes Veal, Other Chicken, Turkey and Lamb/Mutton
Source, Livestock Marketing Information Center



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