Broiler production for September once again came in higher than expected, estimated at 3.88 billion pounds, a year-over-year increase of 5.4 percent, or 0.3 percent when adjusted for slaughter days. This increase was supported by a two percent year-over-year increase in average bird weights to 6.5 pounds, while slaughter-day-adjusted processing volumes decreased by 1.8 percent year over year, according to Economic Research Service/USDA’s November 17, 2020 Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook report.

Preliminary slaughter data for October points to a year-over-year decrease in slaughter and a slight increase in average bird weights. Based on higher-than-expected production in the first part of October, the fourth-quarter production forecast was raised slightly to 11.175 billion pounds. Production in 2020 is forecast to total 44.709 billion pounds, an increase of 1.8 percent year over year. The 2021 production forecast was increased to 45.095 billion pounds to reflect the increase to the 2020 production forecast, but at a slightly slower rate of growth given higher expected feed prices.

September broiler exports totaled 618 million pounds, an increase of 52 million pounds or 9.3 percent year over year. This increase was driven primarily by higher shipments to China (+72 million pounds) and Mexico (+20 million pounds). Broiler shipments to China increased month over month in August and September and China is expected to remain an important market for U.S. broiler exports for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

In addition, sales to Mexico appear to be rebounding after having fallen below year-earlier levels between the months of April and August. Based on expectations for continued strength in key export markets, the fourth-quarter export forecast was increased to 1.895 billion pounds. Exports in 2020 are forecast to total 7.304 billion pounds, an increase of about three percent compared to 2019.

In 2021, despite expectations for a relatively weak global economy, broiler meat is anticipated to remain attractive as an affordable protein. The 2021 export forecast was increased to 7.275 billion pounds, a slight decrease from the 2020 export forecast.