Even though broiler meat production rose slightly in the third quarter of 2011, ending cold storage holdings of broiler products totaled 645 million pounds, down 4.9% from 2010 numbers and down 71 million pounds from the end of the second quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
With the exceptions of breast meat and drumsticks, cold storage holdings were lower for all other categories. Holdings of leg meat products were down sharply, with stocks of leg quarters at 87 million pounds, 29% lower than 2010. Stocks of leg quarters have moved lower as the export market has strengthened. Cold storage holdings of legs, thighs and thigh meat were also down from 2010. Stocks of wings totaled 52 million pounds at the end of third-quarter 2011, 8% lower than 2010 numbers. In September and October, stocks of wings have fallen by almost 21 million pounds. Stocks of whole birds are also down from 2010.
With broiler meat production up slightly and most of that growth coming from heavier birds, prices for a number of broiler products have been under downward pressure. In October, whole birds fell to 73.7 cents per pound, down over 8% from 2010 and about 7 cents per pound lower than in August. After rising in September, prices for boneless/skinless breast meat fell to $1.21 per pound in October 2011, down almost 10% from 2010 numbers.
Reflecting generally reduced cold storage holdings, prices for leg meat products were all considerably higher in October than in 2010. Prices for whole wings in the Northeast market averaged $1.20 per pound in October. While this is still down about 10% from October 2010, prices for wings have risen by 23 cents per pound since September.