USDA forecast higher U.S. meat production in 2010 as higher beef and poultry output more than offset lower pork production, but also raised its price forecasts for all three proteins.
In its monthly World Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA said higher fed cattle marketings in the first quarter support a higher forecast of beef production despite lower carcass weights in the first part of the year.
Broiler meat production forecasts were raised as year-over-year hatchery data increases have grown and broiler slaughter data point to increasing bird weights.
USDA reduced its pork production forecast based on the March 26 Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, which indicated a smaller March 1 inventory, reduced sows farrowing and slower growth in the number of pigs per litter. Meat export forecasts were reduced from last month, largely reflecting lower pork exports to Asian markets.
USDA reported cattle and hog prices were strong in the first quarter and raised its price forecasts sharply into the summer quarter as cattle and hog supplies are expected to be tight. It also forecast higher broiler prices as red meat supplies remain relatively tight and demand improves.
USDA raised its average price forecast for Choice steers this year to a range of $89 to $93 per hundredweight from a range of $87 to $92 a month ago. Barrows and gilts are now expected to average $50 to $53 per hundredweight, up from $47 to $50 forecast last month. Broilers were priced at 80 cents to 84 cents per pound, up from 77 cents to 82 cents per pound.
Corn, soybean meal
USDA also raised its ending stocks forecast for corn in the 2009-10 marketing year ending in September, due to lower than expected December-through-February feed and residual corn use. The average farm price for corn over the course of the marketing year is now forecast in a range of $3.50 to $3.70, compared to a range of $3.45 to $3.75 predicted last month.
For soybean meal, USDA narrowed its price range forecast by $5 on both ends to $285 to $305 per ton. The report predicted record soybean exports, even as a large South American soybean crop comes to market.