US turkey production up 6 percent in first half

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – During the first six months of 2011, US turkey meat production totaled 2.9 billion lbs., 5.5 percent higher versus the same period in 2010, according to the Aug. 17 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The turkey meat production increase was due to a greater number of birds slaughtered, up 4.6 percent, along with an increase in live weights at slaughter.

Live turkey weights during the first six months of 2011 averaged 30.1 lbs., up 1.1 percent from the same period in 2010. The forecast for turkey meat production in the second half of 2011 is 2.9 billion lbs., down less than 1 percent from the same period in 2010. The decrease in turkey meat production is expected to come primarily from a smaller number of birds slaughtered, as average live weights at slaughter are expected to continue slightly higher than those of the previous year.

During the first six months of this year, the number of turkey poults placed for growout totaled 139 million, up less than 1 percent from the same period in 2010. However, on a year-over-year basis, poult placements have been lower than the previous year over the last 3 months.

Turkey stocks at the end of second-quarter 2011, after declining on a year-over-year basis for the previous seven quarters, totaled 510 million lbs., marginally higher than the previous year. Although turkey meat production is expected to be lower in the second half of 2011 versus the previous year, turkey stocks are expected to remain above their year-earlier levels through the end on the year.

At the end of second-quarter 2011, whole birds stocks totaled 271 million lbs., down 3 percent, and stocks of breast meat were 72 million lbs., 8 percent lower than the previous year. However, any explanation of changes in turkey stocks is complicated by the fact that 148 million lbs. of the cold storage holdings are in categories labeled “other” and “unclassified.” Stocks of whole turkeys are still lower than the previous year, and the number of birds slaughtered in the second half of 2011 is expected to be lower than the previous year.

Both these factors point to continued strength in prices for whole birds. Prices for whole hens in second-quarter 2011 were $1.00 per lb., and the price for third-quarter 2011 is forecast at $1.04 to $1.08 per lb. Prices are expected to strengthen ever further in the fourth quarter to $1.06 to $1.12 per lb., slightly higher than the previous year.
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