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The combined inventory of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey in cold storage at the end of September was estimated at 2.506 billion pounds, 4.3% lower than a year ago but still 4.4% higher than the five-year average. The combined month-end inventory of the four main species declined by 1% from August levels. This compares to an average increase in the last five years of around 1.5%.
The inventory of all pork cuts and trim in cold storage at the end of September was estimated at 598.9 million pounds, 1.6% higher than a year ago but 2% lower than the five-year average. Hog slaughter in September was sharply higher than a year ago and heavier hog carcass weights further increased supplies coming to market. Despite the increase in production cold storage inventories declined 1.3% from August levels. In the last five years, September pork inventories increased an average of 3.1% from August levels. There was a significant drawdown in ham inventories during September, we think in large part due to strong demand in export markets, especially Mexico.
Total ham inventories at the end of September were 201.7 million pounds, 6% lower than a year ago and 11.3% lower than the five-year average. Ham inventories were slightly lower in September compared to an average inventory build of 8% in the last five years. Extremely weak belly prices and the potential for higher prices later in the year appears to have limited the normal drawdown in belly stocks we see in September. The total pork belly inventory at the end of last month was 40.7 million pounds, 34% higher than a year ago and 67% higher than the five-year average. Pork loin inventory remains burdensome while the inventory of pork trim in storage was 39.4 million pounds, 2.3% higher than a year ago.
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