2023 USDA Cattle Inventory Report- Watch OUT

2023 USDA Cattle Inventory Report- Watch OUT

The USDA released the all cattle inventory report on February 1, 2023.  The report showed a loss of four percent from last year.  That doesn't seem so bad, except that is the lowest head count since 1962.  With population expanding in the United States from nearly 182 million people to nearly 349 million folks during that same timeframe, which means population nearly doubled.  That demonstrates that we have a very unbalanced supply and demand scenario in progress, or as stated in recent times a supply chain problem.

Those people that know me are familiar with my prediction of the protein markets just prior to the pandemic in 2020 of being empty shelves in the grocery stores and substantially higher prices.  Now we don't have shutdowns in the packing plants, but we also do not have enough cattle to keep those plants running at capacity.  

Where will the make up come from?  Most likely Brazil and Argentina with some from Australia. That doesn't seem so bad, except there are substantially different grading and inspection standards.  Most of the imported meats will go as ground beef, however the quality will not be what we are accustomed to.

Keep in mind as well, that the meat that is imported will be frozen boxed beef that will be thawed and made into hamburger.  That freeze, thaw, freeze process is not so safe and those companies that claim that they provide never frozen beef; well they will still claim that as they do not know that the imported beef was previously frozen.  The reason that this will be allowed, is currently if meat is imported and either repackaged or further processed, it can have a "Product of USA" label.

Now people will say that is not all bad as the factory made meat will be able to fill the void.  This is true to a point, however most recent trends show that consumers have backed off of the hype and those products are showing substantial decline.  This is due mainly because grains and grain inputs have risen in cost substantially as well, so the factory meat is not as competitive and thus production is down.

Are you seeing what is about to happen here?  Now you are thinking what about pork and chicken?  Well we have a huge infestation of Avian flu which has devastated the the egg market and also all poultry nationwide.  In addition, we are seeing China coming back from Covid lockdowns and they have been buying US Ag products more aggressively the last month or two.

Seems like a perfect storm brewing into the near future.  Disclaimer, I am not a wizard nor do I have a crystal ball, but all things considered it might be a really good time to stock up your freezer as things could get funky real soon.


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