The forecast for U.S. turkey meat production in 2013 was reduced by 135 million pounds to 5.8 billion pounds, a decline of 2.7 percent from 2012 numbers, in reaction to anticipated higher prices for turkey feed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.

Turkey meat production during the first six months of 2012 was 2.9 billion pounds, 2.7 percent higher than in the same period in 2011. The increase in turkey meat production resulted from a higher number of birds slaughtered, up 1.6 percent, and an increase in live-weight at slaughter. Over the first six months of 2012, live turkey weights averaged 30.4 pounds, up 1 percent from the same period in 2011, according to the USDA.

The forecast for turkey meat production in the second half of 2012 is 3 billion pounds, up 3 percent from the same period in 2011. The increase is expected to come chiefly from a higher number of birds slaughtered, as average live weight at slaughter is expected to be slightly higher than in 2011.

With more birds slaughtered and an increase in turkey meat production, turkey stocks have expanded. At the end of June turkey stocks were up 7.6 percent from 2011 numbers to 547 million pounds. Stocks of both whole birds and turkey products were higher, with most of the growth attributed to larger stocks of turkey products, said the USDA. With higher production expected to continue in the second half of 2012, ending stocks for 2012 are forecast at 250 million pounds, up 18 percent from 2011.

Turkey exports

Turkey meat exports totaled 185 million pounds in the second quarter of 2012, an increase of 8 percent from the same period in 2011. Turkey products shipments have been steady throughout the first half of 2012, with first-quarter exports totaling 181 million pounds. Shipments to Mexico in the first half of 2012 have not been the fastest growing, but at 198 million pounds, they accounted for 54 percent of the total.

In June, turkey exports totaled 58.7 million pounds, 9.5 percent higher than in June 2012. Higher shipments to Canada, the Philippines, China and Mexico accounted for the bulk of the increase. As with other poultry products, the turkey export forecast for 2013 was lowered from its previous levels due to expected lower domestic production and higher prices, according to the USDA report. Exports in 2013 are expected to total 690 million pounds, down 40 million pounds from their previous forecast and 7 percent lower than the forecast for 2012.