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Food

Beef Numbers: Reduction in carcass weights, slaughter numbers seen

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its latest estimates
of U.S. beef, pork and poultry production for March. The data showed notable reductions in output for all three main species, but
it is important to note that there was one less marketing day in
March 2013 compared to March 2012, which tended to skew the results. When adjusting for the calendar mismatch, the supply picture appears less bullish. 

Total cattle slaughter was 2.585 million head, 6.1 percent lower than the previous year. However, the average weekday slaughter in March was 123,114 head, 1.6 percent lower than a year ago. 

Cattle carcass weight increases appear to be leveling off, with the average cattle carcass weight in March pegged at 792 pounds, 0.5 percent
over a year ago. Cattle carcass weights rose by 2.3 percent in 2012. 

Total commercial beef production in March was 2.038 billion pounds, 5.6 percent lower than a year ago. Average daily beef supplies in March were about 97.1 million pounds per day, 1.1 percent lower than the previous year. 

Beef production is slowly declining but the cutbacks are not significant enough yet to propel beef prices to new record highs, especially given significant demand headwinds so far this year.