The broiler market has been stable. Projections for prices were slightly decreased, and year-ending stock projections were increased on recent data, according to USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.

October broiler meat production was 3.7 billion pounds, about 8.5 percent higher than a year earlier, in part because there was an additional slaughter day. Bird weights were up 1.3 percent above last year, still reflecting the relatively cool Southern summer that supported bird growth, and 6.9 percent more birds were slaughtered. Projected production was not revised for either the fourth quarter or for 2018.

The robust level of broiler production in October drove up the month-ending stocks in cold storage facilities by 49 million pounds from September. Most of the storage increase occurred in the “other” category, distinct from those that include whole birds or whole cuts of either white or dark meat. Projected year-ending stocks were increased to 825 million pounds for 2017 and to 790 million pounds for 2018.

Broiler exports in October were 642 million pounds, about 15 percent above last year. The hefty growth compensated for the previous month’s much weaker export level. Buyers may have taken advantage of lower dark meat prices in October, as prices were down 14 and 7 percent, respectively, for whole legs and leg quarters on a month-over-month basis in the Northeast market. Export growth was strongest to Mexico, Cuba, Taiwan, and South Africa.

Weekly prices for whole broilers (national composite) were stable in November and reached nearly 86 cents per pound for the week ending December 8. The fourth-quarter projection was reduced slightly to 85-86 cents per pound.

Egg prices have continued to soar, leading to higher price projections for the current quarter and 2018. Hatchery data, indicators for future production, have revealed that producers may expand their flocks.

Turkey prices remain below historical averages, indicating that demand is weak relative to current supply levels. Prices next year are expected to average $0.93-$1.00 per pound, about 1 percent higher than prices in 2017, while the production forecast is unchanged,