Russia's ban on Western meat imports, in response to sanctions imposed for its role in eastern Ukraine, contributed in part to increased U.S. pork and poultry warehouse inventories in August, an analyst said.
Bob Brown, president of Robert A. Brown, Inc in Edmond, Oklahoma, made the comments following the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly cold storage report on Monday. The report showed August pork inventories totaled 546.3 million lbs, up 2 percent from July and down slightly from a year ago.
Hams, which totaled 179.4 million lbs, accounted from most of the total pork stock increase with bone-in hams up 24 percent from July and a 17 percent boneless ham gain.
Total pork rose roughly 10 million lbs more than usual in August, and virtually all of that was boneless hams, Brown said.
"Part of that had to do with the U.S. that in June and July had just started shipping hams to Russia after several months of not doing so because they had previously barred it," he said.
In June, Russia lifted its initial ban on U.S. pork imposed last year over the use of the feed additive ractopamine that promotes lean muscle growth in hogs.
However, the sizable increase in boneless hams from July to August may have been diluted somewhat by processors and retailers putting more of them in storage in perpetration for the winter holidays, said Brown.
U.S. pork exports to Russia in 2013 totaled 17.2 million lbs compared to 275.2 million the year before, according to USDA data.
Chicken stocks in August totaled 616.0 mln lbs, with the biggest increase, other than hens, traced to leg quarters that at 127.2 million lbs were up 6 percent from July, according to Monday's USDA storage report.
Brown pointed out that Russia was a popular destination for U.S. leg quarters that ultimately were drawn into Russia's meat ban on the West.
"Leg quarters in storage in August were up 7.5 million lbs from the prior month versus the five-year average that is normally down 5 million," said Brown.
He attributed leg quarter's nearly 13 million lb swing in the average to lack of Russian buying, but added that leg quarter stocks were still down 35 million lbs from last year.
Leg quarters initially destined to Russia would probably find more use domestically due to an unexpected decline in production here traced to breeding flock issues, he said.
Broiler exports to Russia last year totaled 608.7 million lbs, compared to 588.4 million in 2012.