U.S. pork in cold storage in February posted the smallest gain for that month in nine years, according to Tuesday's U.S. Department of Agriculture cold storage report.

The data also showed total beef stocks last month dipped for the first time from the previous year since November 2014.

Analysts attributed the modest pork stocks rise to decreased pork production and solid bacon demand.

They added that the beef sector is finally working through product that had piled up over several months, partly due to last year's West Coast port dispute.

Analysts look for pork and beef demand to remain strong and prices affordable though the spring and summer grilling season as production increases.

Tuesday's report showed the total February pork inventory at 628.4 million lbs, up 3 million lbs from January for the smallest gain for the month since 2007.

"This is a pretty big surprise," said Allendale Inc. chief strategist Rich Nelson.

February pork production dropped 1.7 percent, partly because of wintry weather earlier in the month, said Nelson. He added that domestic and foreign demand for U.S. pork was better than expected.

"We should see some aggressive pork and bacon featuring in the coming months at possibly lower prices than last year, but not by any large amount," said Nelson.

Robert Brown, an independent analyst in Edmond, Oklahoma, said continued robust pork belly demand likely encouraged end users and processors to remove product from storage.

They may shy away from buying pork bellies that are currently high-priced compared to last year in the hope that costs will come down later, he said.

Total beef stocks last month at 490.6 million lbs dropped 27.5 million from January, the largest drawdown for the month in 7 years. It was down 1.3 million lbs from February 2015, their first yearly decline since November 2014.

"We've past the peak in terms of the excess stocks built up from the West Coast port issue last year," said Nelson, who also cited better-than-expected beef exports.

Brown alluded to the 28 million lb drop in boneless beef stocks that he calculated represents about 92 percent of total beef in storage. The five-year average decline is 5 million lbs, he said.

Boneless beef was plentiful and it was time to start using it, especially given reduced beef imports from Australia, said Brown.