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CME: Poultry Slaughter Runs Ahead of Placements

by 5m Editor
17 May 2010, at 9:20am

US - There were several questions last week about the huge reported increase in broiler production relative other broiler output data and our subsequent investigation into the issue has provided no satisfactory answers, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Last week’s Production and Price Summary showed weekly broiler production 7.2 per cent higher than one year ago for the week of May 7. (The chicken data run one week in arrears.) The data for the week of 14 May from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service shows the same figure 6.5 per cent higher. Those were big numbers even in the go-go days of ‘death, taxes and four per cent more broilers’ being about the only sure bets in life. The numbers agree pretty well with AMS’s slaughter (up 2.8 per cent YTD using weekly data – the Production and Price Summary +2.9 per cent is based on daily data) and slaughter weights (up 1.3 per cent YTD).

The problem is that the chicken slaughter are running well ahead of chick placements and egg sets this year. Using weekly data, YTD egg sets are 1.1 per cent higher than one year ago and placements are unchanged. The last of those (fewer chicks per egg set) is reasonable. But how does one get significantly more slaughter per placement? About the only way is lower mortality but this year’s discrepancies are pretty large for that to be the case without a solution to some widespread health issue – of which we have hear nothing.

The poultry analysts we talked with are very sceptical about AMS’s data at this point, especially since it was running well ahead of the monthly slaughter figures through March. The monthly slaughter and production figures are reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in its Poultry Slaughter report. Data for April will be available in the 25 May report. Maybe this is not a big deal but the discrepancies give us some pause in drawing conclusions about the state of broiler demand and about what the announced increases in output by Pilgrim’s, Tyson, Sanderson and others may cause.