TOTAL red meat production is projected to be slightly larger this month as the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that higher beef production figures offset smaller pork, chicken and turkey figures.
Greater fed cattle and cow slaughter combined with heavier average carcass weights to drive beef output higher.
USDA analysts said moderate feed prices and placement of larger animals should support larger average carcass weights in the second half of the year.
However, recent developments regarding Merck Animal Health's zilpaterol hydrochloride beta-agonist product (Zilmax) leave that assertion something of an open question, at least from Aug. 16 forward after the company temporarily suspended sales of the product in the U.S. and Canada.
Slower hog slaughter in the fourth quarter and a slower-than-previously-expected chicken expansion led USDA to trim production figures for both pork and chicken. Not surprisingly, it also lowered turkey production estimates, with hatchery data portending sharply lower production in the latter half of the year.
Table egg production was increased. The report also notes that growth in the broiler breeder flock is expected to support greater hatching egg production as well.
Looking at exports, USDA reported stronger beef export projections, although it left the 2014 outlook unchanged. Pork exports were revised slightly lower based on second-quarter data, but chicken exports were forecasted to be larger due to continued strength through June.
Beef and chicken prices are expected to come down further in the latter half of the year based on increasing production and strong competition from the pork sector. Pork prices, on the other hand, are expected to show some strength through the end of the year based on strong demand.
Milk production for 2013 was projected to be higher than last month based on second-quarter production data, but USDA left the rest of its forecast steady with the previous month. Exports were boosted slightly as continued tight world supplies support U.S. sales abroad.