Beef Export Values Rise; Volumes Subdued

Beef and beef variety meat exports continue to climb in value, even though volumes sold to other countries continues to run below a year earlier, according to data released by the USDA’s Foreign Ag Service and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

According to the data, total US beef exports in April totaled 92,263 tonnes, down 7,034, or 7.08%, from 99,297 a year ago.  However, the value of these exports amounted to $555.335 million, up $17.928 million, or 3.34%, from $537.408 million a year earlier.

For the year to date, the US has exported 341,927 tonnes of beef plus variety meats, down about 9% from 376,377 in the 2014 period.  These exports were valued at $2.121 billion, up 4% from $2.048 billion a year earlier.

April beef exports without variety meats amounted to 66,326 tonnes, down 2,882, or 4.16%, from 69,208 a year earlier.  Yet the value of these exports was listed at $478.691 million, up $6.447 million, or 1.37%, from $472.244 million a year earlier.

For the year to date, the US has exported 242,008 tonnes of beef cuts, down about 9% from 264,719 in the same period a year earlier.  These exports were valued at $1.834 billion, up about 2% from 1.805 billion the previous year.

However, total beef and veal exports continue to fall in line with the previous five-year average, and at times a little above, according to a graph from the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

It is evident that monthly beef exports continue to grow seasonally.  A stronger US dollar appears to have pared total beef product exports from a year ago, however.

In a release, USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said, “Exports are still recovering from a slow start to the year, but the April results confirm that the US industry is regaining global momentum.  “April was really the first time this year that we saw relief from the West Coast port situation – not that shipping traffic was completely back to normal, but the worst of the congestion was clearly behind us.  And despite the US dollar continuing to be very strong relative to the currencies of most key customers and competitors, demand for US meat is holding up well.”

Seng cautioned, however, that the strong US dollar leaves the US industry in a vulnerable position when competitors gain tariff advantages in key markets.

“Australian beef is enjoying its second round of tariff rate reductions in Japan, and the projected slowdown in Australia’s beef production has not materialized,” he said.  “A similar situation may develop with regard to European pork, as the EU and Japan have pledged to complete their trade agreement negotiations by the end of the year.”




Only token cash cattle trading has occurred so far this week.  Asking prices were near $163 per cwt on a live basis and $258 to $260 on a dressed basis, compared with last week’s $159 to $160 live and $252 to $253 dressed.

Beef prices Thursday were mixed, with the USDA choice cutout at $248.48 per cwt, down $0.80, and the select cutout at $240.51, up $0.71.  Volume was heavy with 128 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

Slaughter this week is running behind year-ago rates, and Thursday’s kill at 110,000 head was well below the 116,000 of last week and the 117,000 of a year ago.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $224.46 per cwt, up $0.85.