USDA Outlook: Whole broiler prices average 87.2 cents/lb. in Q1, up 12% year-over-year; whole hen turkey prices average US$1.01/lb., up 12%; one dozen large eggs in New York region average US$1.09, up 2.8%

WASHINGTON , April 18, 2012 (press release) – The following article is excerpted from the April Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook published by the Economic Research Service of the USDA.

In first-quarter 2012, the 12-City price for whole broilers averaged 87.2 cents per pound, up 12 percent from the previous year. Although higher than the previous year, prices for whole birds have declined seasonally in the last 2 weeks. Wholesale prices in the Northeast region in March were higher for all broiler product categories compared with the previous year. Prices for leg quarters averaged $0.53 per pound in March, 26 percent higher. The price for boneless/skinless breast was $1.33 per pound, up 1 percent, and the price for boneless/skinless thighs, also $1.33 per pound, was up 15 percent over March 2011. However, the largest change was for wing prices. Wing prices rose to $1.83 per pound in January 2012, but instead of following their usual steep seasonal decline, they had declined only 2 cents per pound by March. At $1.81 per pound, the March 2012 wing prices were 118 percent higher than the previous year. Prices for broiler products are expected to remain steady or to strengthen somewhat over the next several months. Three factors are expected to influence the price situation. First, integrators continue to have lower chick placements for growout. Second, prices for beef and pork are expected to remain strong. And third, U.S. economic conditions appear to be gradually improving.

During first-quarter 2012, prices for whole hen turkeys averaged $1.01 per pound, 12 percent higher than in first-quarter 2011. With increases in production and higher stock levels, the gap between price levels in 2012 and 2011 is expected to narrow as the year progresses, and by fourth-quarter 2012 average prices are expected to be only slightly higher than the previous year. The average national price for frozen whole hens in March was $1.04 per pound and the second quarter price is forecast at $1.05 to $1.09 per pound, nearly 6 percent higher than the previous year, while yearly prices averaging $1.05 to $1.10 per pound are only 5 percent more than in 2011.

Eggs Prices 3 Percent Higher in First-Quarter

The wholesale price for one dozen large eggs in the New York region averaged $1.09 in first-quarter 2012, 2.8 percent higher than in first-quarter 2011. With the Easter holiday relatively early in April this year, egg prices began to strengthen seasonally in March, but have been declining seasonally since shortly after the holiday. Weekly prices in the New York region reached approximately $1.30 per dozen just before Easter. However, with the seasonal decline, prices in second- quarter 2012 are forecast at $0.94-$0.98 per dozen, down about 11 cents from the previous year as prices in second-quarter 2011 were boosted somewhat by a late Easter holiday.

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