Cattle Outlook: US Beef Summer Price High Pegs Back Exports

US - Record US beef values have been followed by a huge swing in imports and exports, report two University of Missouri economists.
calendar icon 15 September 2014
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

A 13.5 per cent decrease in beef exports and a 37.1 per cent lift in imports 'should be no surprise', according to  Professors Ron Plain and Scott Brown. 

Yet, through the first seven months of the year, U.S. beef exports were up 1.4 per cent compared to January-July 2013, write the expert pair. The biggest export growth markets are Hong Kong and Mexico.

Beef imports are up 15.4 per cent with Australia supplying 68 per cent of the increase. Imports of live cattle were up 11.7 per cent during the first 7 months of the year.

Domestic beef demand was up 0.7 per cent in July. Beef demand has been up each month since January. Chicken and turkey demand were both down in July.

USDA is forecasting a record corn harvest of 14.395 billion bushels with a season average price of $3.50 per bushel. They are predicting a record soybean harvest of 3.913 billion bushels with an average price of $10.00/bu.

Boxed beef cutout value was mixed this week. The cutout value for choice carcasses this morning was $250.53/cwt, up $1.97 from last Friday and $57.47 higher than a year ago. The select cutout was $235.53/cwt on today's morning report, down $1.77 for the week, but $59.21 higher than a year earlier.

Fed cattle prices eased a bit this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis were $158.70/cwt, down 52 cents from last week's average, but up $35.70 compared to a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers lost 11 cents this week to $249.83/cwt. This week last year the dressed price averaged $194.28/cwt.

Cattle slaughter totaled 592 thousand head, up 14.3 per cent from the week before (which was light because of Labor Day) and 3.7 per cent fewer than the same week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending August 30 was 877 pounds, down 3 pounds from the week before, but 10 pounds heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices were $3 to $8 higher this week at Oklahoma City. This week's price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $295-$324, 450-500# $275-$317, 500-550# $244-$286, 550-600# $243-$261, 600-650# $234.50-$253, 650-700# $219-$248, 700-750# $210-$244, 750-800# $214.50-$229.50, 800-900# $216-$227, and 900-1000# $198-$215/cwt.

The October live cattle futures contract closed at $156.27/cwt today, down $3.48 on the week. December fed cattle settled at $159.25/cwt, down $1.67 for the week. The February contract ended the week at $159.57/cwt, up 37 cents from the previous Friday. The September feeder cattle contract gained $3.75 this week to end at $229.47/cwt. October feeders closed the week at $225.92/cwt, up $1.55 compared to the Friday before.

The September corn futures contract ended the week at $3.39/bushel, down 7 cents for the week. December corn closed at $3.385, off 18 cents from the previous Friday.

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