Cattle Outlook: US Beef Imports Jump in February

US - Beef imports to the US leapt nearly 50 per cent in February, largely due to more shipments from southern hemisphere suppliers.
calendar icon 13 April 2015
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Buying lifted 48.8 per cent during February with most of the increase coming from Australia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand, write Professors Ron Plain and Scott Brown in their weekly outlook.

Beef imports equalled 14.4 per cent of U.S. production during February, they add in their University of Missouri report. 

U.S. beef exports were down 2.6 per cent in February with sizable declines in shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada. Beef exports equaled 10.1 per cent of February production.

Cattle imports from Canada were down 15.2 per cent in February, write Professors Plain and Brown. Imports of cattle from Mexico were up 3.5 per cent compared to February 2014.

Domestic beef demand was up 12.5 per cent in February compared to a year earlier.

The April WASDE predicted 2015 beef production will be down 0.2 per cent compared to last year with fed cattle prices averaging in the low $160s.

Weekly Update

Fed cattle prices this week were lower on light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $163.13/cwt, down $3.54 from last week's average, but up $13.81 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $264.01/cwt, down 71 cents for the week, but up $24.43 compared to the same week last year.

This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $257.16/cwt, up $1.19 from the previous Friday and up $34.89 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $251.05/cwt this morning, up $1.58 from last week and up $38.09 from a year ago.

Cattle slaughter this week totalled 502,000 head, down 4.4 per cent from the week before and down 12.7 per cent from the same week last year.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 28 was 874 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before and up 22 pounds compared to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago each week since June 14, 2014.

Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mostly steady to $3 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $309-$343, 450-500# $304, 500-550# $281-$301, 550-600# $253-$283, 600-650# $248-$268, 650-700# $229.50-$234.25, 700-750# $217-$225.50, 750-800# $212.50-$224.50, 800-900# $195.75-$213.25, and 900-1000#, $187.25-$199/cwt.

The April live cattle futures contract settled at $158.80/cwt today, down $4.22 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $148.80/cwt, down $4.57 from the previous week. August fed cattle lost $3.27 this week to settle at $146.55/cwt. October live cattle ended the week at $148.42/cwt.

The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $212.45/cwt, down $7.92 for the week. May feeders settled at $209.72/cwt which is $7.73 lower than the week before. The August contract ended the week at $211.45/cwt.

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