Beef Trade Seen Higher

The USDA’s Economic Research Service raised its estimate of 2017 US beef trade with foreign countries saying imports were expected to be up while export demand remained strong.

The ERS made its estimates Thursday in its monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.




US beef imports were up 5% in September from a year earlier to 231 million pounds, the ERS said.  Among the major sources were Australia, up 20.2 million pounds from a year ago, and Mexico, up 4.2 million pounds, which more than offset declines from Brazil, down 10.4 million pounds, and Uruguay, down 2.3 million pounds.

As a result, third-quarter 2017 beef imports were 8.4%, or 63 million pounds, higher than third-quarter 2016.

The forecast for fourth-quarter 2017 imports was raised by 10 million pounds from last month based on sustained demand for lean meat in the US and increased imports from Mexico.

The forecast for 2018 beef imports was unchanged from last month.




In September, US beef exports reached 243 million pounds, a 14% jump year over year, largely because of elevated shipments to Japan (up 20.9 million pounds).  As a result, third-quarter 2017 exports were up 13%, or 85.4 million pounds, from last year to 746 million pounds.

Based on the current pace of export growth, seasonal fourth-quarter export patterns and stronger weekly export sales data in October, the fourth-quarter 2017 US beef export forecast was raised 30 million pounds from last month.

What’s more, higher domestic production, lower prices and stronger overseas demand likely will continue the competitiveness of US beef for the rest of 2017 and through 2018, the ERS said.

The forecast for 2018 beef exports was raised slightly to 2.9 billion pounds.




The 2017 US cattle import forecast was revised downward by 10,000 head from last month.  A slower pace of August imports and a decline in September imports resulted in a 3% growth in imports from January through September 2017, relative to 2016, to 1.275 million head.

September cattle imports were 6,708 head lower than the same month last year to 100,884 head.  Imports declined 9,510 head from Canada, outweighing a 2,802-head increase from Mexico.

The 2018 cattle import forecast also was lowered by 10,000 head from last month.

The 2017 cattle export forecast was raised by 15,000 head from last month, based on higher year-to-date growth and expected seasonally higher fourth-quarter exports.  Exports through September of 97,986 head were more than double last year.  Shipments through September were 44,942 head higher to Canada and up 7,939 head to Mexico compared with last year.

The forecast for 2018 cattle exports also was adjusted higher by 15,000 head.




About 617 head of fed cattle sold on the Livestock Exchange video auction Wednesday at $119.21 and $119.25 per cwt, down about $4.75 from a week earlier.

Cash trade last week was reported in the Plains at mostly $119 per cwt on a live basis, down about $5 from the previous week.  Dressed-basis trade was reported at $188 to $190 per cwt, down $1 to $4.

The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was down $1.06 per cwt at $206.18, while select was up $0.20 at $188.05.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $18.13 from $19.39 with 76 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $158.44 per cwt, down $0.86.  The USDA is having trouble with its reporting system, so a current Index was not available.  Monday’s Nov settlement was $149.55 per cwt, up $2.17.