Cattle Outlook: Beef Exports Down in April

US - Beef exports were down 13.4 per cent in April. The drop was greatest for shipments to Russia, South Korea, and Viet Nam.
calendar icon 10 June 2013
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Beef shipments to Japan, our biggest foreign customer, were up 92 per cent. Beef imports were up 8.8 per cent in April, due largely to more beef from New Zealand. In total, 8.5 per cent of April US beef production was exported while imports equaled 10.9 per cent of production. This was the second consecutive month with greater imports than exports. During the first third of the year, beef exports were down 3.8 per cent and imports were up 3.4 per cent.

Cattle imports from Canada were up 68 per cent in April. The number of live cattle coming north from Mexico was down 43 per cent. Total cattle imports were down 7 per cent in April. January-April cattle imports were down 10 per cent.

As of June 2, 91 per cent of corn acres were planted, up from 86 per cent the week before, but down from 100 per cent a year ago. A quarter of US pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on June 2, up from 22 per cent a year ago.

Fed cattle prices declined this week on very light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $123.40/cwt, down $1.41 from last week, but up 61 cents from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $195.80/cwt this week, down $3.26 from a week ago, but up 22 cents from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $201.94/cwt, down $5.37 from the previous Friday, but up $4.68 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $184.01/cwt, down $3.50 for the week. The choice-select price spread is $17.93/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 644,000 head, up 8.4 per cent from last week (due to last Monday's holiday), but down 2.4 per cent from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on May 25 was 846 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before and up 7 pounds from a year ago. This was the 72nd consecutive week with average steer weight above the year-earlier level.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices this week were $3 to $6 higher with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $171-$176, 450-500# $166-$171.50, 500-550# $156-$166.50, 550-600# $152.50-$163.50, 600-650# $134.50-$150, 650-700# $135-$144, 700-750# $132-$142, 750-800# $121-$139, 800-900# $125.50-$136, and 900-1000# $118.75-$125.25/cwt.

The June live cattle futures contract closed at $120.15/cwt today, down $1.15 from last week's close. The August fed cattle contract lost $1.20 from last Friday to settle at $119.25/cwt. October fed cattle futures settled at $122.60/cwt and December at $125.05/cwt.

August feeder cattle futures settled at $143.60/cwt, down 72 cents for the week. The September contract lost 80 cents from last Friday to close at $145.77/cwt.

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