Mercaris, a market data and auctions startup that is helping to grow organic and non-GMO agriculture in the U.S., today released its monthly market update as the halfway point of the 2018-2019 corn and soybean marketing year approaches. The report analyzes organic broiler slaughter data and organic egg layer inventories following the recent U.S. government shutdown.

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Courtesy of Mercaris.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service over the first five months of the 2018-2019 MY organic broiler slaughter reached 21.7 million head, or down 1 percent year over year. The year-over-year decline in organic broiler slaughter is unexpected given the industry’s growth through the 2017-2018 MY. However, the USDA’s estimated values may have been skewed lower by the government shutdown as Mercaris estimates 2018-2019 MY organic broiler slaughter is likely closer to 23 million head over the first five months of the marketing year, or 6 percent higher than the USDA AMS estimate. 

Comparing September through November 2018 to the same period in 2017, organic broiler slaughter exceeded year ago levels by 6 percent. Following this, USDA estimates show organic broiler slaughter growth slowed to 1 percent year over year in December, and then collapsed with a 19 percent decline year over year in January.

“It will be worth watching over the coming month if organic poultry slaughter figures rebound following the re-opening of the U.S. government, or if revisions will be made to the historical data,” said Kellee James, founder and CEO at Mercaris.

In contrast to broiler slaughter, organic egg layer inventories remained strong, averaging 15.7 million head per week through January, up 8 percent. The stable growth in organic egg layers is in contrast to the unexpected collapse in broiler slaughter, casting further suspicion on the USDA estimates for organic broiler slaughter numbers.

USDA organic fluid milk sales data suggest that the industry continues to struggle with slowing consumer demand growth. From September through November 2018 U.S. organic fluid milk sales reached 652 million pounds, up less than 1 percent.

“Although sales still achieved year-over-year growth, the rate of expansion has slowed significantly, and organic price premiums appear to be struggling as a result,” said James. “Despite the headwinds faced by organic dairy at the moment, overall organic livestock production and the resulting growth in feed demand appear to be generally positive as the market looks to the second half of 18-19.”

To learn more about Mercaris research and market insights, visit www.mercaris.com.

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