USDA slightly reduced its projections for red meat and poultry production in 2018. The forecast is slightly lower than last month, primarily due to a drop in beef production, which will more than offset increased pork and turkey production. The latest World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates Report says broiler production remains unchanged. USDA sees lower cattle slaughter and weights, which will be offset by somewhat higher fed beef production and higher non-fed beef production in the first half of 2018. Pork production is lowered through the first half of the year because of a slower slaughter pace. However, production in the second half of 2018 is expected to increase thanks to higher expected carcass weights.
Beef imports are forecast to be higher in 2018, thanks to robust early-year demand. No change is forecast for beef exports. The pork import forecast looks higher because of expected demand strength, while pork exports are also forecasted higher than they were last month. Broiler exports remain unchanged, with the exception of turkey, which is forecast to drop slightly in certain key export markets because of weaker demand. The Quarterly Hog and Pig Report on March 29 will give a clearer picture of farrowing intentions over the next two quarters of 2018.