USDA’s June World Agricultural Supply and DemandEstimates (WASDE) report contained some changes to projected meat and poultry supply and utilization. Few of the changes were, in and of themselves, major this month but a recap of USDA’s adjustments and current thinking for the animal protein sector performance in 2012 and 2013 is, we think, in order as we approach the mid-point of 2012.

The major change for beef numbers in the June WASDE was a 1.9% reduction in projected 2012 exports. That change brings forecast ‘12 exports down to 2.623 billion pounds, carcass weight, a 5.9% reduction from their record-high level in 2011. Beef imports were also increased slightly to 2.437 billion pounds. That figure is 18.5% higher than one year ago and is reflective of lower U.S. cow slaughter and the strong U.S. dollar. The reduction in LFTB output has also restricted lean grinding beef supplies, creating a need for more imported cow beef. With beef production projected to fall by 4.2%, even lower exports and higher imports are not enough to maintain the amount of beef available to U.S. consumers at 2011 levels. Domestic beef availability/consumption is now forecast to fall 2.8% to 55.7 lbs. in 2012 and to drop another 2.2% to 54.5 lbs. in 2013.

2012 forecast pork production and exports were increased in the June WASDE. Production was increased to 23.385 billion lbsl, 0.4% higher than last month’s estimate and 2.7% higher than last year’s output. The increase reflects higher production in April and May and the expectation of continued higher output through the end of the year, large due to heavier carcass weights. U.S. pork exports for 2012 were increased by 1.5% versus last month. That puts the current export estimate at 5.384 billion pounds, 3.7% higher than last year’s record level. Further, USDA expects pork exports to increase by 0.9% in 2013. Higher output, however, is expected to push domestic per capita availability/consumption for pork up by 1.1% in 2012 and 1.9% in 2013 as a larger, increasingly productive breeding herd comes to bear on supplies.

USDA’s largest changes in June were made to the projections for broiler supply and use. 2012 production was increased by 0.8% to 36.495 billion pounds, ready-to-cook (RTC) weight. That figure is 0.8% lower than last year’s total. Note that getting this close to 2011 output levels will require a major reversal of year-on-year broiler output, which stood at 5.2% smaller than 2011 levels as of June 2. We noted last week that we expect the year-on-year comparisons for egg sets to swing to the positive side of the ledger in the next few weeks, setting the stage for the same swing in broiler production 8-10 weeks later. Look for higher year-on-year broiler output sometime in August. The question remains whether the shift can take us from –5.2% in early June to –0.8% by the end of the year. 2013 broiler output was unchanged this month, remaining at 37.099 billion pounds, 1.7% higher than this year’s level. U.S. per capita broiler availability/consumption is now forecast to fall by 2.8% this year and then increase by 1.7% in 2013.

USDA raised virtually every number in the turkey supply and utilization table but the changes to the most important numbers were small. Production was increased by 0.4% from last month’s estimate to 5.927 billion pounds, RTC weight. That figure is 3.7% higher than last year. Turkey imports were raised by 5% but here is where percentages can be misleading as that 5% represents only 1 million pounds. Lesson: turkey imports are generally insignificant so a 5% increase doesn’t matter. USDA expects turkey output growth to slow markedly to only 0.5% in 2013. This year’s higher output will push domestic per capita availability/consumption to 16.5 lbs, 2.5% higher than last year. USDA expects the growth to slow to only 0.1 lbs. or 0.6% in 2013.