Japanese Beef Production Down; Pork Output Up

Japanese beef production continued to decline last year, while pork production rebounded, said The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in its semi-annual Livestock and Products report from Japan.

US chilled beef exports grew 50% during the year, driving the US share of total beef imports to a 13-year high, the report said.  US beef exports to Japan were expected to continue growing this year, capturing additional market share.

Higher volumes of North American and Japanese chilled pork helped fuel record consumption in 2016, while European suppliers dominated the market for frozen cuts, the report said.




Japanese beef production fell for a fourth straight year in 2016, falling 5% from 2015 to 1.051 million head, although heavier slaughter weights somewhat offset the decline in slaughter, the FAS said.  Increasing Wagyu cow retention in response to sustained, record-setting feeder calf prices points to a larger calf crop this year and a modest rebuilding of the Wagyu cattle herd.

Larger supplies of US beef and tighter supplies of Japanese domestic and Australian beef helped drive the 50% increase in US chilled beef exports to Japan last year, the FAS said.  This pushed the US share of imported chilled beef up five percentage points to 44%.

Total beef imports rebounded in 2016 as sharply higher chilled beef imports more than offset a decline in frozen beef import volumes, the report said.  The US expanded its share of the total imported beef cuts market by five percentage points, reaching a post-BSE high of 398%.

FAS Tokyo said it anticipates 2016 production and trade patterns to continue into 2017, driving US market share to an estimated 42%.




Japanese pork production last year rose on larger slaughter volume as average litter sizes more than recovered from the effects of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, the report said.  Total hog slaughter rose to 16.393 million head, up 2% from 2015, lifting total pork production to 1.279 million tonnes, also up 2%.

FAS referenced an industry source who said efforts by Japanese swine breeders to expand utilization of sows with improved genetics further supported the increased in national litter sizes last year.

Average carcass weights were steady in 2016 at about 172 pounds, FAS said.

Pork consumption there set another record as ample domestic and imported supplies kept pressure on prices, enhancing pork’s competitiveness in the ongoing battle for consumer spending on protein, the FAS said.

Total pork imports rose substantially in 2016, with volumes of chilled and frozen cuts growing briskly and prepared pork products volume remaining flat, the report said.  EU suppliers, however captured some US market share of frozen cuts last year as large volumes of competitively priced European frozen cuts affected market dynamics.

FAS Tokyo said it expects total pork imports to recede slightly in 2017 as Japanese processors unwind accumulated stocks of mostly European frozen cuts.




Cash cattle trading Tuesday remained quiet.  Prices last week were steady to higher at mostly $125 to $126 per cwt on a live basis.  Dressed-basis trades came in at $200 to $201, versus $195 to $196.

Average fed cattle exchange auction prices last Wednesday were $2.88 per cwt higher at $124.99, versus $122.11 a week earlier.

The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was up $2.40 per cwt at $212.00, while select was up $1.09 at $205.05.  The choice/select spread widened to $6.95 from $5.64 with 105 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $126.97 per cwt, up $0.11.  This compares with Tuesday’s Mar settlement of $123.95, down $0.12.