August 20, 2008


US broiler meat production continues to rise


Broiler meat production in June totaled 3.1 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from the previous year.


The gap widens when compared on a quarter by quarter basis: for the second-quarter 2008, production amounted to 9.4 billion pounds, 3.8 percent higher than the same quarter in 2007.


This is the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases in broiler meat production.


In the first half 2008, broiler meat production was 18.5 billion pounds, up 4.7 percent from year earlier. During this period, broiler slaughtered was 4.5 billion, up 2.5 percent from a year earlier.


The average broiler liveweight at slaughter during the first 6 months of 2008 was 5.57 pounds, 1.6 percent higher than in first-half 2007.


Both the high numbers slaughtered and weight increase contributed to the overall increase in broiler meat production. The birds were also getting meatier, as the amount of meat produced per bird has become higher.


Broiler meat production is expected to total 18.45 billion pounds during second-half  2008, up only marginally from the same period in 2007. The growth in meat production is expected to come from higher bird weights at slaughter as the number of birds slaughtered is expected to decline somewhat.


As production costs were high, integrators are not likely to expand production except to cater to export demand. Broiler production in 2009 is expected to rise with cheaper feed prices.  The forecast for broiler production in 2009 was increased to 36.7 billion pounds, up 100 million pounds from the previous forecast, but still slightly lower than in 2008.


The number of chicks being placed weekly for growout has averaged approximately 173 million over the last 5 weeks (July 12 to August 9), down 2.1 percent from the same weekly period in 2007.


Although weekly chick placements have been below a year earlier for some time now, over the last several weeks, the numbers of eggs being placed in incubators has been sharply lower (down more than 3 percent) than the previous year.


Over the first 7 months of 2008, retail prices for broiler products averaged higher than a year earlier. Prices for whole legs averaged US$1.39 per pound, up 6.2 percent over the same period in 2007. Prices for bone-in breast meat rose to US$2.38 per pound, 4.9 percent higher than the previous year and prices for fresh whole chickens averaged US$1.18 per pound, 7.8 percent higher. With a slowdown in production growth forecast, retail prices for broiler products are expected to remain above year-earlier levels through the remainder of 2008 and into 2009.

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