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Experts will adjust meat production forecasts

Analysts may have had the "big eye" on U.S. meat production  it is growing more slowly than once estimated and U.S. Department of Agriculture analysts have reduced forecasts for 2017 beef, pork and poultry production from earlier levels.

Total red meat and poultry production is expected to total near 100 billion pounds, a new record level, Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, said.

"Slower growth in meat production, combined with improving trade balances for all meats, is holding meat consumption estimates close to year-ago levels," he said. "Per capita retail beef consumption is projected to increase less than 1 percent while pork and poultry consumption may be slightly lower." 

"Beef production is currently projected to increase 3 percent," Peel said. "Cattle slaughter for the year to date is still running abut 6 percent higher, but slaughter rates for most classes of cattle have moderated recently and are expected to have smaller increases in the second half of this year. Sharply lower carcass weights so far this year have held year-to-date beef production increases to roughly 4 percent over year earlier levels. Beef carcass weights appear to have bottomed seasonally but may remain below year ago levels for much of he remainder of the year.

"Beef exports are projected to increase about seven percent while beef imports are projected to decrease about 12 percent. So far this year beef exports are up 20 percent while beef imports are down 11 percent.

Those findings modify the projected production increase to a net increase of just over 1 percent. Per capita retail beef consumption is projected to increase less than 1 percent to 56 pounds, compared to 55 pounds in 2016. 

Total 2017 red meat and poultry consumption, including veal, lamb, other poultry and turkey, is projected at 214 pounds per capita, up fractionally and the highest level since 2008. Total meat production is projected to increase 3 percent, but increased meat exports and reduced meat imports are holding net production increases to about 1 percent higher than last year. Trade of each of the meats is important to to moderate domestic meat supplies and price pressure in the domestic market.

Expansion continues in the pork industry with pork production projected to increase nearly 3 percent in 2017 compared to one year ago. Lower hog carcass weights in recent weeks have moderated.

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