World meat prices declined in January, as abundant pork supplies fostered competition for consumer spending, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
The FAO’s Meat Price Index averaged 194.3 points in January, down 3.2 points, or 1.6%, from its revised December value. Falling currency rates against the US Dollar were partly responsible for the decline in the index, the FAO said.
The main products affected were pork from Europe, beef from Australia and mutton or lamb from New Zealand.
In addition to being readily available in producing countries, pork’s relatively abundant export availability contributed to the decline in the index, the FAO said.
The downward revision in the December index, to 197.5 points from the preliminary 204.0 points, was linked to an unanticipated drop in export prices for Brazilian pork and Brazilian poultry.
2014 US BEEF EXPORT VALUES RISE
But the value of 2014 US beef and pork exports rose to new records, both posting double-digit gains over 2013 levels, according to USDA statistics compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.
For the year, beef exports totaled 1.197 million tonnes, a gain of 2% over 2013. However, the value of these exports was up 16% to $7.135 billion.
A closer look at the statistics reveals that much of the yearly gain in volume was in variety meats, things like the tongue, heart or liver, which have little value in the US. Variety meat exports were up 7% to 337,913 tonnes from 315,724 in 2013. Value was up 15% at $837.8 million from $729.7 million.
Beef muscle cut exports were up less than 1% in 2014 to 858,839 tonnes from 857,068 in 2013. However, their value was up 16% to $6.297 billion from $5.427 billion.
PORK EXPORT VOLUME/VALUE MORE TELLING
Pork’s export values and volumes are even more diverse and telling. Yearly volumes of muscle cuts were down 1% to 1.653 million tonnes from 1.673 million in 2013, yet their value was up 10% to $5.636 billion from $5.136 billion.
However, pork variety meat exports were up 12% last year to 525,965 tonnes from 470,789 tonnes, and the value of these products was up 14% to $1.038 billion from $912.7 million.
US meat exports overcame significant challenges to attain last year’s gains. These included market access restrictions in Russia and China, the rising US Dollar and a port slowdown along the West Coast.
West Coast ports and the longshoremen have been embroiled in a contract dispute for months, and this weekend the employees walked out, giving employers a view of what a full-blown strike would look like.
USA Today reports that a port shutdown that encompasses all 29 West Coast ports could cost the economy $2 billion a day. Agricultural exports were held up along with non-perishable goods.
CASH CATTLE REMAINS QUIET
No cash cattle trading was reported Monday, although feedlot asking prices were thought to be around $162 to $165 per cwt on a live basis and at $262 to $265 on a dressed basis.
Cattle traded last week from $160 to $162 per cwt live and around $252 on a dressed basis.
Wholesale beef markets Monday were lower in the afternoon after being mixed at midmorning. They ended with choice at $238.48 per cwt, down $0.60, and with select being off $1.51 at $232.30 as 114 loads were sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $208.66 per cwt, down $1.99 on the day. This is well above the Mar futures contract settlement of $203.62 on Monday.