The Cattle Range Home Page
February 7th
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December Beef Exports

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December Beef Exports
Steiner Consulting Group

Total exports of fresh/frozen and cooked beef in December were 86,285 MT, slightly less than the all time record November beef export volume but still about 2.5% higher than a year ago.  Using weekly export data, we were projecting December beef shipments to post a modest decline compared to a year ago.  Keep in mind that weekly data only covers muscle cuts and not all traders report into the system.  

The fact that monthly exports have come above expectations in the last three reported months will likely cause us to adjust higher our projections for January and February as well.   More importantly, the value of US beef shipments in December was $57 million higher than the previous year, an 11% increase - evidence of robust demand for US beef products in world markets.   

Total US beef shipments in 2017 were 948,042 MT, 11.8% higher than the previous year.  The value of all exports of fresh/frozen and cooked beef in 2017 was $6.4 billion, 17% higher than the previous year.  US fed cattle prices were significantly higher than market participants were anticipating and part of the reason for that was the higher value derived from sales in export markets.   

As the chart on shows, Japan was the biggest market in volume terms in 2017, taking 27% of all US beef shipments.  This was a 3 point increase from its share in 2016.  Mexico and Canada, our two NAFTA partners, accounted for 14% and 11% of US exports, respectively. Hong Kong remains one of our top markets and with US access to China we expect to see a continued increase in exports to these two markets.  Shipments to Mainland China in December were 795 MT and for the year US shipments to China were 2,980 MT.

We think it is fair to expect shipments to China in 2018 to increase, with a conservative estimate being somewhere around  1,000-1,200 MT per month.  The value of exports to China in December was $8.2 million, implying an average price of over $10,000 MT.  This is significantly higher than the average price of beef to other markets, indicating high value cuts initially going there.  Shipping end cuts into China will be more challenging given the premium of US product to Brazilian beef. 

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