US Beef Exports Hold Above Year Ago, Average

The US remained a strong exporter of beef and beef variety meats in February.

USDA Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service data show exports sagged a little more than is seasonal but remained well above last year and the 2011-2015 average.  Imports also declined and did so at a steeper pace.

US beef and beef variety meat exports in February totaled 205.505 million pounds, down 5.860 million pounds, or 2.77%, from 211.365 million in January.  The total, however, was up 33.203 million pounds, or 19.3%, from 172.302 million pounds in the year-earlier month.  It also was 22.215 million pounds, or 12.1%, above the five-year average of 183.290 million.

The value of those beef exports was up $71.526 million, or 16.4%, from a year earlier to $508.5 million from $436.980 million, according to the US Meat Export Federation, which compiled the government data.

For the year, total beef exports amounted to 186,905 tonnes, up 21,401, or 12.9% from 165,504 in the 2016 period, the USMEF said.

The value of year-to-date beef exports was $1.024 billion, up $148.912 million, or 17.0%, from $875.072 million in the first two months of 2016.

 

JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, TAIWAN STILL DRIVING BEEF EXPORTS

 

Japan continued its position as the leading volume and value market for US beef, with February volumes climbing 48% from a year ago at 23,789 tonnes and 55% in value to $134.3 million, the USMEF said.

For the year, exports to Japan were up 41% in volume to 46,276 tonnes and 44% in value to $259.6 million.  This included a 60% increase in chilled beef volume to 19,404 tonnes.

Japanese import data also showed that US beef overtook Australian beef in the first two months of the year with US market share climbing to 45.6% while Australia’s dropped to 44%, the USMEF said.

Strong momentum also continued for US beef in South Korea, where February imports of US beef rose 11% to 13,093 tonnes with a value of $86 million (up 26%).  This pushed the two-month totals up 23% in volume to 28,287 tonnes and 31% in value to $177.6 million, the USMEF said.

Chilled US exports to South Korea through February were up 95% to 54,384 tonnes.

 

BEEF IMPORTS DOWN SEASONALLY

 

Beef and veal imports in February dropped to 200.476 million pounds from 228.081 million in January, the data showed, a decline of 27.604 million, or 12.1%.

Beef imports also remained 31.651 million pounds, or 13.6% below the 2016 level of 232.127 million pounds.

 

CASH CATTLE QUIET

 

Only 120 head of Nebraska cattle traded on the fed cattle exchange auction Wednesday at $120 per cwt on a live basis.

No cattle traded on the weekly fed cattle exchange auction last Wednesday.  The previous week, average auction prices were $2.34 per cwt lower at $130.97.

Asking prices this week range from $128 to $130 per cwt on a live basis and $202 to $204 dressed.  No bids were reported.

Last week, prices were $120 to $122 per cwt live in Nebraska and Iowa, but $125 bids were rebuffed elsewhere.

The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was up $0.76 per cwt at $210.13, while select was off $0.96 at $198.64.  The choice/select spread widened to $11.49 from $9.77 with 119 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $133.85 per cwt, up $0.21.  This compares with the Apr settlement Wednesday of $137.50, up $0.32.