Although cold storage is only a minor component of the total beef supply, cold storage behavior is indicative of market conditions and challenges. Cold storage stocks include an unspecified blend of boneless meat trimmings and muscle cuts, along with bone-trimmed cuts. Beef cuts in refrigerated storage generally fell over time and accounted for 7.2% of total stockpiles of refrigerated stock in October; the lowest proportion in more than 20 years. Most cold storage stocks are boned products and are believed to consist mainly of chips and cold meats. Rarely, and only in exceptional circumstances, significant amounts of meats can be placed in refrigerated storage. These high quality frozen steaks do not enter the normal markets for refrigerated meat when marketed and are usually sold at a discount. Grenades and cold meats are more commonly frozen, although maintaining frozen stocks is expensive and not done without good economic reason.
Meat ownership in cold storage is mainly driven by two distinct but market-related activities: the ground meat market and the international beef trade. Changes in import and export flows of beef may contribute to the variation in cold stocks. For example, the chill accumulation at the end of 2015 was undoubtedly related to the dramatic increase in beef imports last year, most of which was frozen by processing beef and was withdrawn from refrigerated storage over several months. Meat destined for frozen exports can contribute to the increase of cold stocks when exports are growing. The increase in slaughtered feed in 2016 has produced more chips and the supply of lean meat is higher due to the additional slaughtering of cows. The sharp rise in beef production and a relatively weak ground beef market in 2016 likely contribute to an increase in stockpiled cold storage in October. Despite being only a small part of the global beef supply, current stocks of current beef reflect the marketing challenges that accompany the growing beef production in 2016.