Weekly US Cattle Outlook: Beef Imports Up

US - Weekly Cattle Outlook, 19th February 2010, a weekly review of the US cattle industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.
calendar icon 22 February 2010
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Beef imports last year totaled to 2.627 billion pounds, up 3.5 per cent from 2008, but down 29 per cent compared to the record import year of 2004. Canada was the origin of 30.9 per cent of US beef imports in 2009 with 30.2 per cent coming from Australia and 19.7 per cent imported from New Zealand. Beef imports equaled 10 per cent of US production in 2009.

Cattle imports in 2009 totaled 2,001,769 head, down 12.4 per cent compared to 2008 and the lowest import total since 2005. Cattle imports from Canada were down 33 per cent and imports from Mexico were up 34 per cent. Canada was the source of 53 per cent of US cattle imports with 47 per cent coming from Mexico. The US exported 57,973 head of cattle in 2009 with 78 per cent going to either Canada or Mexico.

US beef exports during 2009 totaled 1.869 billion pounds, down 1 per cent compared to 2008. In total, 7 per cent of US beef was exported during 2009. Our five biggest foreign customers were Mexico, Canada, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea. The biggest increase in beef exports was to Hong Kong which purchased 50 million pounds more US beef in 2009 than in 2008. The biggest export decline last year was to Mexico which purchased 86 million pounds less beef from the US than in 2008.

Cattle prices moved higher this week. On Friday morning, the choice carcase cutout value was $1.4621/pound, up 5.61 cents for the week and 12 cents higher than last year. The select cutout was up 6.23 cents from the previous Friday to $1.4462 per pound.

The higher cutout values lifted fed cattle prices. The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday on a live weight basis was $88.79/cwt, up $1.41 from a week earlier and $9.33 higher than a year ago. Steers sold on a dressed basis averaged $144.48/cwt, $4.33 higher than the week before and $16.21 higher than the same week of 2009.

The April live cattle futures contract ended the week at $93.30/cwt, up $2.53 for the week. June settled at $90.87, up $2.32 from the week before. August settled at $89.32/cwt and the October live cattle contract ended the week at $91.42.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 620,000 head, up 3 per cent from the previous week and up 0.7 per cent compared to a year ago.

Steer carcase weights averaged 833 pounds the first week of February which was 22 pounds lighter than a year ago. Steer weights have been below year-earlier levels for each of the last 11 weeks.

Cash bids for feeder cattle this week were mostly steady on heavy weight feeders to as much as $8 higher on calves. The price ranges at Oklahoma City for medium and large frame steers were: 400-450# $129-137.25, 450-500# $123-132.50, 500-550# $117-$124.50, 550-600# $110.25-$119.75, 600-650# $104.25-$113.25, 650-700# $101.50-$109, 700-750# $98-$104.75, 750-800# $95.75-$102.25, and 800-1000# $90-$98.50/cwt.

Feeder cattle futures also were higher this week. The March contract ended the week at $102.65/cwt, up $2.90 from last Friday. April gained $3.33 this week to settle at $104.15/cwt.

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