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The combination of a cyberattack on JBS and a shortened holiday week factored into lower beef and pork production last week.

Total beef production was estimated at 443 million pounds, a 14.5% decline from the previous week. Compared to Memorial Day week in 2019, the number was down 4.5%.

That’s the same percentage impacted by the cyberattack against packing giant JBS, Len Steiner and associates wrote in their Daily Livestock Report June 7.

“Slaughter last week was about 50,000 head smaller than the same holiday shortened week in 2019 and unfortunately for producers, it will be difficult to catch up on this shortfall in the near term,” they said. “Packers were already running near full capacity and backlog created by the lost production days will take some time to absorb.

“In the short term this probably means that spot beef supplies will remain tight since packers will look to fill orders for customers that were shorted some product due to the disruption.”

Last week’s pork production is estimated at 424.4 million pounds, down 17% from the previous week. Steiner and associates said those numbers were similarly impacted by the JBS issue and the Memorial Day holiday.

Hog slaughter was down about 403,000 head from the previous week.

“It will be a bit easier for pork packers to catch up with the shortfall in production than it is for beef packers,” Steiner and associates said. “That’s because the seasonality in production, and therefore capacity constraints, are very different. Cattle availability and processing demand are at their peak during this time of year and there is very little slack.

“On the other hand, hog availability is substantially lower and packers have the ability to increase production by running more shifts on Saturday. Hog availability this year is a bit lower than what it was in 2019 but should be fairly close, and the backlog created last week should help bolster June weekly slaughter to above 2.4 million head.”

This could tighten up pork supplies heading into the Father’s Day weekend, a traditionally strong time for grilling.

“Sow slaughter may have slowed down in the last few weeks but it remains above 2019 levels,” Steiner and associates said. “The level of breeding stock liquidation is more significant than the numbers show because the lower inventory implies a higher culling rate.”

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