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U.S. red meat production rebounds

Photo courtesy of U.S. Meat Export Federation

Production of U.S. red meat has rebounded significantly in recent weeks.

Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO, says U.S. beef and pork production encountered significant challenges in April and May as processing facilities implemented worker safety measures related to COVID-19.

“There has been a lot of work within the supply chain on enhancements and improvements in response to COVID-19 at the live production level, slaughter plant level, and the logistical infrastructure,” Halstrom said. “Consequently, we’re seeing dramatic rebounds in our ability to supply our customers both in the U.S. and globally.”

Halstrom says this week’s U.S. cattle slaughter was the second largest of 2020.

“The week ending June 27th we saw dramatic improvements in the slaughter rates on both the beef and pork side,” Halstrom noted. “Beef slaughter we saw 680,000 head. This is up four percent from last week and up one percent from last year. It is of note that this is the second largest weekly kill this year for the beef side. Weights are up 50 pounds from last year.”

Halstrom also shares good news from the latest hog slaughter totals.

“On the pork side, hog slaughter this week is estimated at 2.64 million head,” he said. “This is up 11 percent from last year. This is four weeks in a row that production is above year ago levels and we’ve seen an increase in carcass weights of about eight pounds compared to last year.”

Demand between domestic and export markets is dramatically different, according to the latest data from USMEF.

“A lot of variety meats – things like pork stomachs, beef lips, and pork feet – are exported with significantly reduced value here domestically,” Halstrom said. “On the cut side, undervalued cuts such as beef rounds and pork hams we tend to see more demand for those on the export markets as well.”

Halstrom says the recent production rebound underscores the U.S. industry’s ability to serve both domestic and international customers. For more information, visit usmef.org.