USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service released its semi-annual Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade circular on Thursday. This report refreshes FAS’s outlook for production, consumption and trade of meat and poultry products and provides FAS’s first estimates for 2013. The report can be found at http://www.fas.usda.gov/livestock_arc.asp. Some highlights are:

CME: World beef output expected higher in 2013• World beef output will increase by 0.6% in 2013 to 57.525 million metric tons (MMT). This is the second straight year for a slight increase in beef production. It is driven by significant growth of India’s beef output.
• India will have an estimate 327.3 million cattle within its borders on January 1, swamping number two Brazil’s 203.715 million and the 89.7 million that will be in the U.S. on that date.
• The U.S. will remain the world’s largest beef producing country in spite of an estimated 3.3% decline in output. FAS predicted that U.S. production in 2013 will be 11.273 MMT, a figure that is over 7% lower than the most recent peak of 12.163 MMT in 2008. Brazil will stay in the number two position with its output rising 1.8% to 9.375 MMT in 2013.
• India is the fourth largest beef producer but the largest exporter of beef in the world. FAS cites “Rising demand for low-cost product fueled by many smaller, emerging and price sensitive Asian and Middle Eastern markets” as the driving force behind India’s export success. India’s 2013 production is forecast to be 4.168 MMT, up 14% from 2012 and up an astonishing 63% from 2008. The country will export over half of that total (2.16 MMT) in 2013, a figure that represents nearly 25% of all world beef trade. India will become the world’s largest beef exporter this year and extend that leading position next year, according to FAS.
• U.S. beef exports are forecast to decline again in 2013. This year’s expected 1.124 MMT is down 11% from last year’s record high. FAS predicts we will export 1.111 MMT next year, 1.1% less than in 2012.
• U.S. beef imports are forecast to grow in ‘13 by over 11% to 1.188 MMT. That level would represent 10.5% of total U.S. beef consumption next year. FAS predicts we will import 9.2% of total beef consumption this year.
• Global pork output is forecast to grow by a modest 0.3% to reach 104.7 MMT in 2013. That figure, though, is nearly 7% higher than in 2008 in spite of significantly higher feed costs.
• China, with nearly half of the world’s total pork production, is the main driver of the global increase. It’s output is expected to increase by 1% to 52.0 MMT. FAS points to “relatively” slow economic growth, high costs and tight producer margins as the reason for the “anemic growth.” It follows increses of 5.8%, 4.4% and 3.8% in 2008, 2009 and 2011. China’s output dropped 3.1% in 2010 due to death losses from disease and natural disasters. That reduction was a major driver in China’s larger 2011 imports.
• U.S. pork production is forecast to decline by 1.3% in 2013 to 10.440 MMT. The U.S. will remain the second largest porkproducing country. The EU-27, of course, produces more pork as a block than does the U.S.
• EU output is projected to fall marginally (0.5%) next year. FAS notes that more stringent EU animal husbandry regulations are “resulting in a restructuring of the industry with the most inefficient commercial farms exiting production.”