WASHINGTON – Stocks of frozen pork bellies have piled up while pork producers anxiously await a resolution to the United States’ trade war with China.

On Sept. 30, stocks of frozen pork bellies were up 34 percent from last year’s total and the highest they’ve been since 1971, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) reported in its Oct. 22 Cold Storage report.

As of Sept. 30, 2019, frozen pork bellies in cold storage totaled 40,668,000 lbs., an increase from the year-ago total of 30,354,000 lbs., but down from 45,723,000 lbs. reported for Aug. 31, 2019. Pork bellies in cold storage reached a record high of 50,654,000 lbs. in 1971.

Despite the lack of a US-China trade agreement, exports of pork have been strong. Based on reports from exporters for Oct. 4-10, 2019, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) of the USDA said net sales of 292,200 MT reported for 2019 — a marketing-year high — were up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior four-week average. FAS attributed the increases primarily to Mexico (132,400 MT), China (94,000 MT), Japan (46,400 MT), South Korea (9,900 MT) and Canada (5,800 MT). Reductions for Australia (200 MT) partially offset the gains.