USDA’s World Demand and Supply Estimates report, released today by the Economic Research Service, projects total meat and poultry production for 2012 at 91.293 million pounds versus 92.789 million pounds in 2011. For pork, January’s estimate totals 23.190 million pounds for 2012, which compares with 22.759 million pounds in 2011.

On a month-to-month comparison, WASDE shows pork production gains driving a slight rise in 2012 meat and poultry production forecasts from the December estimates.

ERS’ hog price estimate for the year is nearly unchanged from December’s report, with average barrow/gilt prices projected at $63 to $67 per hundredweight, live. Average price for 2011 is estimated at $66 per hundredweight.

For the individual quarters in 2012, ERS breaks out prices as follows:

  • 1st quarter - $63-$65
  • 2nd quarter - $66-$70
  • 3rd quarter - $66-$72
  • 4th quarter - $57-$61

While, production growth reported in USDA’s December Hogs and Pigs Report was modest, with most categories showing 1 percent increases over 2011 levels, slaughter for the year ahead could increase by 2 percent, due to productivity growth. The fourth quarter is the period to watch as slaughter capacity was tested this past fall and any increase beyond 2 percent would burden the market and prices.

The pig crop in the second half of 2011 was about 2 percent higher than in 2010. In the near term, producers plan a slight decline in sows farrowing during the first half of 2012, and those are the pigs that would head to slaughter in fourth-quarter 2012. Of course, intentions can still change.  

The on-going factor to watch is productivity. Pork producers continue to get more pigs per litter and packers still like heavy-weight pigs, so productivity can increase without more sows farrowing.

Regarding competing meats, the report shows beef production will decline from 2011’s levels, 24.965 million pounds versus 26.187 million pounds. Fed-steer prices are projected higher for every quarter. An average for the year is set at $120 to $128 per hundredweight. That compares to an estimate of $114 for 2011.

USDA will release its Cattle report on January 27, providing an indication of producer intentions for heifer retention in 2012 and feeder calf availability.

Poultry production forecasts in the WASDE report are mostly unchanged. Broiler production is projected to be 36.500 million pounds versus 37.243 million estimated for 2011. Egg production is nearly unchanged for 2012.

To read the report, click here. The meat and livestock details are on page 31 and 32.