USDA has reduced its 2008 pork production forecast because so far in the third quarter, market hogs have been coming into slaughter at a slower pace and at lighter weights than expected. The revised estimate is for commercial pork production in 2008 to tally 23.476 billion pounds, down from August's estimate of 23.556 billion pounds.

USDA dropped its 2009 pork production forecast to 22.98 billion pounds from its August forecast of 23.025 billion pounds. Officials cite the continuation of lighter carcass weights for the production adjustment.

As for hog prices, USDA now looks for third-quarter hog prices (live equivalent 51/52 percent lean) to average $56 to $57 per hundredweight. That is based on continuation of "strong demand" according to the agency. For the year, USDA expects hog prices to average $49 to $50, which is $1 higher than the August estimate.

For 2009, USDA held its average hog price forecast unchanged at $51 to $56 per hundredweight.

USDA also looked at broiler production and expects heavier market weights to increase overall production. For 2008, the agency's estimate of broiler production at federally inspected plants increased to 37.04 billion pounds, from August's projection of 36.99 billion pounds.

The first half of the year saw strong broiler exports, causing USDA to increase its forecast for the year to 6.6 billion pounds from 6.5 billion forecast a month ago. USDA held 2009 broiler exports unchanged.

Because of production increases and a softening domestic demand, USDA reduced its price forecast. It now projects broilers to average 79 cents to 80 cents per pound this year, which compares to the August quote of 80 cents to 82 cents per pound. USDA also reduced its average 2009 price forecast, dropping it to 82 cents to 89 cents per pound versus 83 cents to 90 cents per pound projected last month.
Source: USDA