Beef Exports Exceed Beef Imports

US - US beef imports were down 12.5 per cent last year while beef exports were up 18.9 per cent compared to the year before.
calendar icon 21 February 2011
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

For the first year since 1947, the US exported more beef in 2010 than we imported. In total, 2010 beef exports equaled 8.74 per cent of US beef production and imports equaled 8.73 per cent of our production.

The four biggest foreign buyers of US beef last year were Mexico, Canada, Japan and South Korea, respectively. Together they purchased 66 per cent of our total beef exports. The biggest growth market last year was South Korea which bought 136 million pounds more US beef than in 2009.

Three countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, accounted for 83 per cent of US beef imports in 2010. The biggest drop in imports was in shipments of beef from Australia. They were down 225 million pounds compared to 2009.

The value of beef exports ($3.5 billion) exceeded the value of beef imports by $700 million. The value of beef exports were up $858 million compared to 2009. Last year we exported $105 worth of beef for each head of cattle slaughtered, up from $78/head in 2009. We exported more beef than we imported in only four months of 2010, but they were the last four. This bodes well for continued strong beef exports in 2011.

The boxed beef cutout value was lower this week. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $166.96/cwt, down $1.17 for the week. The select cutout was down $1.72 from the previous Friday to $166.23 per hundred pounds of carcass weight. The narrow spread between choice and select was negative earlier in the week.

Fed cattle prices were higher this week. The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday of this week on a live weight basis was $106.99/cwt, up $1.69 from a week earlier. Steers sold on a dressed weight basis this week averaged $174.89/cwt, $5.35 high than the week before. This week last year, slaughter steer prices averaged $88.79/cwt live and $144.48/cwt dressed.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 651,000 head, up 2.2 per cent from the week before and up 4.7 per cent compared to the same week last year. Steer carcass weights averaged 845 pounds during the week ending February 5. That was down 1 pound from the week before but 12 pounds heavier than a year ago.

Cash bids for feeder cattle around the country this week were steady to $8 higher. Oklahoma City auction prices were $3 to $6 higher with price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $159-$167.75, 450-500# $158-$164, 500-550# $147-$160, 550-600# $138.25-$147.50, 600-650# $135-$142, 650-700# $129.50-$137, 700-750# $127.50-$132.50, 750-800# $126.50-$130, and 800-1000# $113.75-$126/cwt.

The February fed cattle futures contract ended the week at $111.05/cwt, up $3.28 from a week ago. The April contracted closed out the week at $115.15/cwt, up $2.45 for the week.

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