With lower broiler meat production in the third quarter of 2012 and continued strong exports, cold storage holdings of broiler products at the end of the third quarter of 2012 totaled 624 million pounds, down 2 percent from 2011 numbers but up 18 million pounds from the end of second-quarter 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.  

Cold storage holdings of many broilers parts was significantly different from 2011, with some moving sharply lower while a few had strong gains. The cold storage holdings of whole birds, breast meat (down 31 percent), thighs (down 23 percent) and thigh meat (down 28 percent) all declined sharply from 2011 numbers. Partially offsetting these declines were increases in the holdings for legs (up 39 percent) and wings (up 32 percent), according to the USDA. Stocks of broiler meat products are expected to decline to 600 million pounds by the end of 2012 and in 2013 are expected to be roughly similar to their 2012 levels throughout the year.

The impacts of somewhat lower overall broiler production and falling stocks of whole birds and breast meat were seen in higher prices for these products. In October, prices for whole birds were just over $0.84 per pound, 14 percent higher than in 2011. Weekly prices in early November have moved even higher, to around $0.89 per pound. Prices for breast meat products were all stronger in October compared with 2011. Prices in the Northeast market for boneless/skinless breast meat averaged $1.31 per pound, up over 8 percent from October 2011. Prices for breast meat with ribs and line run breast meat were both over 23 percent higher than 2011 numbers, according to the USDA.  


Leg quarter prices at $0.52 per pound were down slightly from 2011, but a strong export market has led to relatively steady leg quarter prices so far in 2012. Monthly leg quarter prices in 2012 have remained between $0.49 and $0.53 per pound. 

For more U.S. poultry information and statistics, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.