CME: Large Growth in Pork, Poultry Output Expected

US - In addition to its first estimates of the 2010-11 corn and soybean crops, the USDA's latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) contained USDA's first published estimates for 2011 meat and poultry supply and use and the general direction is upward, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 14 May 2010
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Researchers at USDA’s Economic Research Service expect lower beef production but pork, chicken and turkey output growth large enough to offset that decline and drive total red meat and poultry output over one per cent higher in 2011.

Some specifics from USDA’s May WASDE are:

  • 2011 beef production of 25.217 billion pounds, 2.2 per cent lower than that of 2010, based on continued declines in US cow inventories and calf crops and expected lower imports of cattle in 2011. There will simply be fewer cattle available and this year’s return to profitability will take time to filter through the beef industry where biology dictates very long response times. This two per cent reduction comes on top of a slightly larger (one per cent versus 0.85 per cent in April) forecast output reduction in 2010. A slight upward revision for 2010 beef exports but a predicted decline in exports for 2011, primarily due to lower output.

    USDA reduced its forecasts 2010 pork production by 0.4 per cent from April to May to reflect lower-than-expected slaughter rates thus far in the year. Forecast 2011 pork production is 2.1 per cent higher than that of 2010 ‘as improved returns encourage increased sows farrowing and carcass weight are heavier.’ We are not at all sure that sow numbers will increase quickly enough to see much higher production in 2011. The current sow herd will produce pigs that go to market through April of next year and it does not appear to be growing. Sow slaughter is indeed low but it is very near normal as a percentage of total sow numbers and the gilt slaughter data from the University of Missouri shows gilts accounting for more than 50 per cent of the barrow and gilt slaughter in 10 of the past 14 week. It’s tough to build a sow herd doing that. USDA left it’s predicted 2010 pork exports at 4.36 billion pounds carcass weight, 5.7 per cent higher than the level of 2009 and predicts just over four per cent growth in exports for 2011. 2010 pork exports through February were 1.9 per cent higher than in 2009.

  • Estimated 2010 broiler production was increased slightly. USDA is not expecting 2010 output to be 2.5 per cent higher than that of 2002 and this first call for 2011 predicts another three per cent next year. The 2.5 per cent itself may be low given the rate of growth in recent weeks. Last week’s total production was over seven per cent larger than one year ago with the increase roughly evenly split between more birds and higher weights. And there is more to come. Pilgrim’s announcement last week that it would add about 3.5 million birds per week by the end of the year (10 per cent higher output for the company) will push supplies two per cent higher in and of itself. That does not count announced increases in bird output by Sanderson, Gold’n Plump, Mountaire and Allen and announced weight increases at Tyson, Georges and Cagles.

  • The turkey industry is expected to return to growth in 2011, adding one per cent to production. USDA also reduced the size of its forecast output reduction in 2010 from 3.3 per cent in April to 2.2 per cent in May.

These changes in output, imports and exports, of course, change US consumption levels. On its face that sounds a bit backwards but, since we have no direct measure of how much meat and poultry people eat, consumption is simply the amount of production for which we have no explanation of usage. We know what is produced, exported and imported and how much is in storage at the beginning and end of the year. So ‘disappearance’ (that volume that we have no explanation for) is considered consumption. Per capita consumption of chicken is expected to increase by 1.6 lbs. to 85.8 lbs, its third highest level ever, in 2011. Per capita consumption of turkey and pork are expected to increase by 0.3 and 0.2 lbs., respectively, while per capita beef consumption falls by 0.3 lbs.

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