By David B. Strickland
Poultry Times staff
WASHINGTON — The forecasted outlook for eggs and broilers for this year were increased, although just slightly for eggs, the USDA’s Economic Research Service notes in its recent “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.”
“Broilers had an uptick in hatchery data indicators, as well as strong gains in bird weights,” ERS noted. “Egg stock projections were lowered for 2018 and 2019 on recent trends. The egg price projection for second quarter 2018 was reduced on recent price data similar to pre-2015 levels.”
Projections for turkey were increased slightly based on larger productions in April, and hardy exports to Mexico, the department added.
For hatcheries, chicken capacity at the beginning of the year was 951 million eggs, which is a 2 percent increase from the year before, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service noted in its annual “Hatchery Production” report. Turkey hatcheries on Jan. 1, 2018, were 41.1 million, which is a decrease of 2 percent from 2017.
“Leading United States breeders had intended placements of 93.3 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during 2017, up 1 percent from 2016,” NASS reported, adding that, “Leading United States breeders had intended placements of 2.68 million egg-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during 2017, down 10 percent from 2016. Egg-type chicks hatched during 2017 totaled 582 million, down 1 percent from 2016.”
For the week ending June 16, 2018, U.S. hatcheries set 231 million broiler-type eggs in incubators, and placed 188 million chicks for meat production, NASS added.
“April broiler production was 3.5 billion pounds, about 2.3 percent higher than a year ago after adjusting for an additional slaughter day this year,” ERS said. “The number of chicks placed in meat-growing operations trended relatively strong in May, supported by a breeder inventory of over 59 million as of May 1.
“Strong broiler prices and relatively low numbers of eggs-hatched per breeder have provided incentives to expand breeder inventory and grow meat birds heavier. These indicators’ strong performance and revised first quarter production data contributed to an upward revision of the 2018 production projection to 42.45 billion pounds, 120 million pounds above the previous month’s projection.”
The report also noted a 66 million pound increase in broiler exports for April, at 583 million pounds. Major markets included Taiwan, Mexico, Angola, Cuba and Congo.
“April shipments to Taiwan and Mexico were 56 million pounds and 121 million pounds, respectively,” ERS said. Exports to Angola totaled 53 million pounds, and Cuban exports were at 39 million pounds. Exports to Congo were 15 million pounds.
The report notes, however, that the broiler export forecast for the year remains “on pace” with its previous projections.
Looking at broiler prices, “Continuing on an upward trend, weekly whole broiler (national composite) prices in May reached a year-to-date high above ($1.20) per pound for the week ending June 1,” ERS reported. “In the beginning of May, weekly prices exhibited strong year-over-year growth (15 percent higher), as well as week-over-week growth, but slowed to 4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, for the week ending June 1. Consistent with seasonal patterns, prices are expected to begin a gradual decrease that will continue into the next several months. The 2018 and 2019 forecasts remain unchanged.”
Table eggs reached 637 million dozen in April, which is a 1 percent increase from 2017, the report noted.
“The table egg layer inventory was up about 2 percent from a year earlier on May 1, while egg production per layer was 1 percent lower,” ERS said. “Producers have reacted to strong egg price trends since about last September by placing more fertile eggs in incubators for hatching. About 4 months after the chicks hatch, they typically enter the table egg laying flock. The last 4 months of data show 9 percent more layer chicks hatched than last year. As these chicks are integrated into laying flocks, some older layers will be retired.”
Production of table eggs for the year was raised to 8.93 billion dozen, which was attributed to increases in hatching egg production, ERS said, adding that, “both the egg and broiler industries have been expanding layer inventories and increasing fertile egg production for this purpose.”
Egg and egg product exports for April reached 30 million dozen, a 5 percent increase from 2017, the department noted.
“Export growth was led by 3.4 million dozen more eggs and products shipped to Canada, most of which were shell eggs,” ERS said. “Exports to Japan were up 2.8 million dozen and to Hong Kong were up nearly 1 million dozen. Increased shipments to Japan were egg products, while those to Hong Kong were shell eggs. Substantially lower exports to United Arab Emirates and South Korea weighed down export growth, with those countries respectively down 2.6 million and 1.6 million dozen.”
Turkey production for April was 482 million pounds, a 10 percent increase from the same month in 2017, the report noted.
For turkey hatcheries, “report data for April were mostly flat relative to the same period in 2017, a modest break from 4 consecutive months of year-over-year declines in all categories,” ERS said. “Egg in incubators of the first of the month remained down slightly in May, marking their 6th consecutive month in the negative. The data suggest that producers are struggling to pull growth back in the face of diminishing returns brought about by wholesale prices that have remained far below recent historical averages.”
Production of turkey for the year is projected at 5.94 billion pounds, the department noted. Production for 2019 is staying unchanged at 5.97 billion pounds.
Turkey exports for April were 18 percent more than 2017, with a total of 51 million pounds, ERS said.
“Mexico remains the largest destination for U.S. turkey shipments, with 35 million pounds shipped in April, or 68 percent of all U.S. shipments,” ERS added. “Exports are expected to grow further in 2018 to 663 million pounds, a 7 percent increase over 2017.
“In 2019, turkey meat exports are expected to total 655 million pounds, or a 1 percent decline from the strong export totals in 2018.”