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.
Derrell S. Peel is a livestock marketing specialist for Oklahoma State University.