In the second half of 2013, US beef production will remain constricted, although a reduction in feed prices should boost poultry and pork production.
The 'Livestock, Dairy, Poultry Outlook', published by the USDA's Economic Research Service, said an increase in an over-year commercial cow slaughter in the first half of 2013 suggested "the potential for another decline" in cow numbers in 2014, with current estimates suggesting a decrease of 1% to 2%. It added that feeder cattle supplies were also down and "feeder cattle of any size could become relatively scarce this fall and winter".
The report said that meat processor Tyson's decision to suspend purchases of cattle fed the beta-agonist Zilmax had created uncertainty for the beef and cattle sectors, but added that any impact was likely to be "minimal" because no other meat processors had suspended the drug. It predicted that retail beef prices would remain relatively high, due to tight supplies.
First-half beef imports were down on-year, but the report stated forecast an increase in imports the second half of 2013 and through 2014.
On pork, the report revealed that first-half pork production was just under 1% below the same period in 2012, but lower exports resulted in greater availability of domestic pork in the first six months of the year. However, domestic demand was strong in the first half of the year and US consumers paid a slightly higher price for pork at retail compared to the same period in 2012.
The report predicted that that third-quarter retail pork prices would decrease, while producers would benefit from "expected over-year higher third-quarter hog prices and lower feed costs".
According to the report, broiler meat production increased for the third consecutive quarter in the second quarter of 2013 to reach 9.47 billion pounds, up 0.9% from second quarter of 2012. It added that production is expected to continue increasing in the second half of 2013, driven by a reduction in feed costs.
"Lower anticipated feed prices are expected to help boost production of broiler meat, table eggs, and broiler-type hatching eggs in the second half of 2013 and into 2014," it said.
However, turkey production is expected to decline in 2013 as the result of high stocks and lower prices, which have resulted in turkey producers reducing poult stockings to levels well below 2012.
The report stated that broiler shipments were strong in June, driven by demand from Russia, Mexico and China. It forecast that broiler exports would reach 1.975 billion pounds in the third quarter of 2013.