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U.S. Pork Supply Climbs 3.4% on Higher Production, USDA Says

Pork inventories in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent at the end of January from a year earlier as production increased, the government said.

Warehouses held 605.27 million pounds of pork, up from 585.31 million on Jan. 31, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Inventories climbed 9.7 percent from the end of December.

Commercial pork output last month totaled 2.066 billion pounds, 4 percent higher than January 2012, government data show. About 9.96 million hogs were slaughtered in January, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier, according to USDA statistics. U.S. pork exports to Japan, the biggest buyer, fell 6.9 percent last year from a year earlier, the latest government data show.

“We have stocks that were already pretty high,” Bob Brown, an independent market consultant in Edmond, Oklahoma, said in a telephone interview before the report. “A gain in pork production from a year ago and a potential reduction in exports to a major customer like Japan -- all those things combined probably increase our stocks.”

Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.9 percent to close at 81.65 cents a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That capped the eighth straight session of declines, the longest losing streak since October 2008. Prices have slumped 4.8 percent this year.

As of Jan. 31, stockpiles of pork bellies, which are cured and sliced to make bacon, fell 32 percent from a year earlier to 36.38 million pounds, according to today’s report. Warehouse supplies of ham rose 9.7 percent from a year ago to 109.27 million pounds.

Chicken-meat inventories at the end of January were 8.2 percent larger than a year earlier at 657.68 million pounds, the USDA said. Beef supplies fell 0.2 percent to 484 million pounds.

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