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November, 1908, quotation touching 233 cents a pound, the highest of the year.
Wholesale prices per pound of fresh carcass lamb at home and foreign markets, 1907 and 1908, by months.
The high prices brought by dressed hogs at Chicago, which had continued without a break throughout 1907 and into the first two months of 1908, broke very sharply in March of the latter year, the price falling from 93 to 63 cents a pound. There was a gradual recovery afterwards, and in August, September, and October the figures were again at the top notch, higher even than those of 1907, but the two closing months of the year saw another decline, though of moderate dimensions. It was somewhat singular, however, that, except in the spring and early summer, Chicago prices in 1908 were higher than those of New York. The table shows that the difference in the first two months was quite marked-21 to 3 cents a pound, or about 30 per cent.
With two exceptions-September and December-best London pork was cheaper last year than in 1907. Prices were highest in September, October, and December, and the prices for the year averaged at least 3 cents higher than Chicago.
Pork is the only comparatively cheap meat at the German metropolis. In most instances the quotations are about on a par with
those of London. Berlin prices, however, stiffened perceptibly toward the end of the year, reaching 14 cents a pound in November and December, which was 2 cents higher than in 1907.
The best French pork is quite high, averaging for the greater part of the year fully 3 cents a pound above London and Berlin. Contrary to conditions in the latter city, the Paris prices fell off in the last two months of 1908.
Wholesale prices per pound of fresh carcass pork at home and foreign markets, 1907 and 1908, by months.
OUR FOREIGN TRADE IN ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS. The reports of the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor, covering the calendar year 1908, show a very decided shrinkage in our foreign trade in animals and animal products, in respect to both imports and exports. It may be seen from the first table below, showing the annual values of the exports by articles for the past three years, that this branch of our trade has decreased alarmingly in the past two years. It is true that the first year in the table (1906) was the record year for animal exports; nevertheless, a decrease of $20,000,000 the next year, and a further drop of $27,000,000 in 1908, making a loss of $17,000,000 in two years, indicate that a radical change has taken place.
The figures show that the major part of these losses occurred in our meat exports, more particularly in beef. The two main items in the decrease of two years ago were bacon ($13,000,000) and live cattle ($5,000,000). In 1908 bacon recovered $5,000,000, but the beef trade underwent heavy loss; cattle on the hoof went back a further
$10,000,000 and fresh beef lost a similar amount, making a decline of $20,000,000 in beef alone. Salt pork also shrank $7,000,000.
Regarding our foreign beef trade it may here be remarked that practically all of it is with Great Britain, and for a long series of years our product held a dominating position in the English market. It may be stated also that for the last year or two the port-killed American beef had become so highly appreciated by British consumers that it rated as high on the London market as the best English grade, these being slightly surpassed only by Scotch, which tops the market. (See table of beef prices on p. 398.)
However, owing to the natural increase in the population, more and more beef is required for our home markets, and our supply has recently been diminishing, so that we have less to spare for the foreign buyer even at a high price. South American beef is, in fact, displacing ours in the British market. It is not so good, but it has the merit of being cheaper, and this has a tendency to reconcile the consumer to the change. Some of it is chilled, some frozen, mostly the latter up to the present time. The chilled consignments are, however, increasing and are reported to be steadily improving in quality. The River Plate trade, as it is called, has indeed been increasing by leaps and bounds in recent years. It must be remembered that it practically only started as recently as 1900; the chilled shipments commenced a year later and did not reach any magnitude until 1905; yet, according to a reliable British market authority, the quantity shipped in 1908 reached a total of 415,099,440 pounds, of which 270,848,544 pounds was frozen and 144,250,896 pounds chilled. For the first time in history this total exceeds the amount supplied by the United States; the total from this country, including the dead weight of the live cattle, being given as 397,368,518 pounds.
The recent rapid decline in our beef exports is no doubt due to the economic conditions at home coupled with the increased supplies in the English market from other sources, chiefly Argentina, as previously mentioned. There is little question that the fundamental cause of the situation is the shortage in our supply of beef cattle, with the resulting high prices of beef in the home markets. It has paid better to sell the meat here than to send it across the ocean, consequently a large part of the trade has been diverted into home channels. This point is strikingly illustrated in the table of beef prices on page 398. It may here be seen that the October quotation for Chicago was actually a shade higher than the corresponding price in London, both for English beef and for American port killed.
The total value of the exports of animals and animal products in 1908 was $249,088,332; those of the previous year totaled $277,150,618, and those of 1906, $296,648,466. The decline in 1908 affected a num
ber of items in addition to the meat products already mentioned. Tallow and lard fell off, respectively, $2,500,000 and $2,000,000, while grease and soap stock decreased nearly a million and a quarter. The only items of importance to show increases were bacon and butter. The former has been alluded to previously, and although the shipments of butter increased to the extent of a million dollars over 1907, they were still far below those of 1906.
The following statement shows the values of the exports of animal origin, by articles, for the past three years:
Value of exports of animals and animal products for calendar years 1906 to 1908. [Compiled from reports of the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor.]
There was an unaccountably large falling off in the imports of animal products in 1908. The statement below shows the totals of 1906 and 1907 to have been within rather less than 13 per cent of each other, whereas the total for 1908 was no less than 27 per cent behind
1907. There are only two really large items on the import list-hides and skins, and wool-and there was a heavy decline in both of these in 1908. It is seen that the three classes of hides and skins dropped collectively last year no less than $20,000,000, while wool decreased slightly over $16,000,000.
The annual values of the imports of animal products for the past three years are as follows:
Values of imports of animals and animal products for calendar years 1906 to
[Compiled from reports of the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor.]
THE FEDERAL MEAT INSPECTION.
The statement next following shows the total number of animals. slaughtered for food under Federal supervision during the year 1908 in each city in the United States where the Government inspection is maintained. On comparing the totals with those of the previous year the salient points revealed are the decrease in the number of cattle, and, on the other hand, the marked increase in the number of hogs slaughtered.
Compared with 1907 there were 354,094 less cattle slaughtered and 66,113 less calves. This shortage of beef was, however, far more than offset by the increased number of hogs, there being 5,757,728 more in 1908 than in 1907.
The animals enumerated in the table were slaughtered at 340 different abattoirs. It may be stated, however, that the Government meat inspection is conducted at a large number of establishments in addition to these, where no slaughtering is done.