By David B. Strickland
Poultry Times staff
WASHINGTON — A disappearance of poultry and red meat, per capita, is being forecast on a retail basis at 217.2 pounds, notes the USDA’s Economic Research Service in its latest “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.” This number is 2.6 pounds more than last year’s 214.6 pounds per person.
For 2017, the department says that poultry will account for slightly less than half at 49.9 percent of the total disappearance, and red meats (beef, pork, veal and lamb) will encompass the other 51.1 percent.
USDA defines “disappearance,” as “the quantity of red meat and poultry that is used in domestic markets. Per capita disappearance is calculated by subtracting net exports and stocks changes from production and then dividing this result by the U.S. population.”
“Although poultry production is expected to rise 2 percent this year, strong production increases of beef and pork — 4.1 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively — largely explain the share of red meat per capita availability in 2017,” ERS noted.
Broiler meat production in January of this year was 3.5 billion pounds, which is a 2 percent increase from the same month in 2016, due to increases in bird slaughter, ERS said.
“The decreasing trend in proportion of birds grown to the heaviest weight category (above 7.75 pounds) has appeared to continue in 2017,” the report noted. “The impact on average weights across all broilers has appeared to be mitigated by fewer birds being slaughtered in the lightest bird category (below 4.26 pounds).”
ERS adds that slaughter of the lightest weight birds is down 16 percent year-to-date.
For broiler exports, in January, 556 million pounds were exported, the department said. This is a 12 percent increase from the previous year.
Export highlights in January include: 20 million pounds to South Africa; and nearly 6 million pounds to Peru, which is a record level. ERS adds that cut-up chicken exports to Peru are being chosen more than whole bird exports.
USDA adds that the March announcement of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Tennessee has led to some countries restricting U.S. exports.
“Through March 8, most of these countries had limited their restrictions to poultry and products from Tennessee or from within a more limited area in the vicinity of the finding,” ERS said. “Only a small proportion of U.S. broiler meat would be affected by these restrictions.”
Egg production numbers are being revised to show increases, the report noted.
“The size of the U.S. table egg layer flock as of Jan. 1, 2017, was increased about 4 million birds from the previous estimate,” ERS said. “This led 2017 production forecasts for both table and hatching eggs to be increased substantially from the February forecasts, totaling 235 million dozen eggs more in aggregate for the year.”
The Tennessee HPAI outbreak may lower egg exports, but USDA notes that the state does not produce a “significant amount of table eggs.”
ERS added that, ” . . . the prior expectations of increasing egg exports to South Korea have become unlikely due to that nation’s recent total ban on non-heat-treated poultry and products from the United States. Exports in 2017 are now forecast to reach 305 million dozen, a 9 percent increase above 2016.”
The turkey industry saw a 5 percent increase in production in January, compared to 2016, the report notes.
“Recent growth is largely attributable to increased poult placements from turkey hatcheries, which have averaged 6 percent higher over the last 6 months compared with the same period a year earlier,” ERS said. “The forecast for production for the first half of 2017 was raised 15 million pounds to account for the placement expansion.”
The continued production growth from last year, and earlier this year, has pushed down turkey prices, the department noted, adding that whole frozen turkey’s weekly wholesale prices has dropped 18 percent since November.
“Turkey prices are forecast to average below 2016 in all quarters of 2017 with the average annual price forecast at $1.03 to $1.10 per pound compared to $1.17 per pound in 2016,” ERS said.
Production forecasts for the second half of 2017 have been dropped by 50 million pounds, the report said, which reduces the total 2017 turkey production forecast by 35 million pounds.
For turkey exports, in January, 26 percent more turkey meat was exported than in January 2016, ERS said. This amounts to 43 million pounds of turkey exported for the month, compared to the 34 million pounds exported during the same month last year.
“These gains are consistent with growth in the second half of 2016, when exports were 20 percent higher than the same period a year earlier,” ERS said. “The forecast for 2017 turkey exports is unchanged at 630 million pounds.”