By David B. Strickland
Poultry Times staff
WASHINGTON — Export predictions for 2018 are forecasted higher for protein sources, including poultry, eggs, red meat and dairy, notes the USDA’s Economic Research Service in its latest “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook,” report.
The department notes that broiler production estimates were reduced for the second quarter of this year, but prices were increased. Production of eggs was forecasted higher, with a marginal decrease in prices; and turkey production decreased slightly.
“April broiler meat production was 3.2 billion pounds, approximately 2.2 percent above last year on a per day basis,” ERS said. “This growth derived from more birds slaughtered, since average weights were slightly below a year earlier. The continuation of relatively slow growth in weights contributed to a second quarter forecast reduction of 25 million pounds.”
The reduced growth in broiler weight has led to an increase of the egg-laying flock to make more meat birds, the department added.
“On May 1, the laying flock was the largest it has been since 2011; however, the proportion of eggs set in incubators that are later placed as chicks in growing facilities has trended downward,” the report said. “This may reflect an older laying flock; among the quickest way for producers to expand their flock is holding older layers for longer, but that may reduce the proportion of eggs that actually hatch (as well as lay rates).
“If an older laying flock is constraining growth in the number of chicks available for placement, this challenge appears unlikely to persist for long, as the layer flock can be refreshed over time.”
Exports in April for broilers were at 517 million pounds, which is a decrease of 4 percent from 2016, ERS noted.
“Exports to Mexico were 19 million pounds less than last year and the lowest since 2012,” the report said. “Buying patterns again favored more exports to Angola, South Africa, Cuba and Kazakhstan; in aggregate, these countries were shipped 77 million more pounds than last year. While April exports to South Africa were higher than last year, they slowed significantly compared to the four previous months.
“Cumulative exports of broiler meat to all destinations through April were still up 5 percent year-to-date, supporting the expected strength in aggregate exports for the year.”
Production of table eggs in April reached approximately 629 million dozen, ERS said. This is an increase of 4.7 percent from the same month in 2016.
“More layers and increased eggs per hen contributed roughly equal amounts to the increase,” the department noted. “The second quarter forecast for all egg production was increased 15 million dozen to 1,890 million dozen, but the third quarter forecast was left unchanged at 1,900 million dozen.”
Exports for eggs and egg products in April totaled 26 million dozen, which is a 15 percent increase over last year, ERS said.
“This growth was led by larger shipments to South Korea, Italy, UAE (the United Arab Emirates) and Japan, totaling 7 million dozen more in aggregate compared to a year earlier,” the report said. “Many of the exports to these countries were processed products; these products have trended most strongly of all egg exports, likely as a result of large available supplies.”
April production of turkeys totaled 436 million pounds, which was a 10 percent decrease from last year, ERS said.
“While 2016 had one additional slaughter day in April, the daily average in April 2017 was still nearly 6 percent below a year earlier,” the report noted. “Prior to April, only April and October 2016 production had fallen below a year earlier in the previous 12 months.
“Due to the reduced pace of slaughter, second quarter production was forecast downward. Concerns over weak demand, evidenced by falling prices, also led to the reduction of the third quarter forecast.”
The overall estimate for the year is now forecast at 6.092 billion pounds of turkey, which is a reduction of 30 million pounds, ERS said, adding that the outlook for 2018 remains at 6.255 billion pounds.
The report added that turkey exports fell 6 percent in April compared to last year, totaling 44 million pounds.
“The drop can be traced to a 74 percent decline in exports to Hong Kong compared with April 2016,” ERS said. “It should be noted that April 2016 turkey exports to Hong Kong were the highest single month since early 2000, but the 2 million pounds shipped in April 2017 were still the lowest since November 2015.
“The largest trading partner for U.S. turkey, Mexico, was up 11 percent compared with a year earlier. Mexico’s share of U.S. turkey exports in April was 65 percent, the second highest share in the previous 12 months.”
The report added that turkey exports are estimated to be reduced 20 million pounds for the year, totaling 603 million pounds, as a result of lower demand and production.