Weekly Cattle Summary: Strong Exports and Boxed Beef Prices Continue

US - May beef exports were up on the previous May and boxed beef set new records last week, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown in their weekly update.
calendar icon 15 July 2014
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Boxed beef cutout values set new daily records last week. Choice cutout set records each of the first four days this week. Select cutout set records each day this week except Wednesday.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $251.29/cwt, up $3.16 from last week's record high, up $59.43 from a year ago, but 88 cents below yesterday's record. The select cutout was $244.66/cwt on today's morning report, up $3.41 from last week, up $60.64 from a year earlier, and up $1.14 from the record set yesterday.

Today's USDA WASDE report increased the estimate of 2014 beef production by 130 million pounds and increased their estimate for 2015 by 60 million pounds. Despite predicting more beef, they increased the midpoint estimate of 2014 slaughter steer prices to $148/cwt from $146/cwt in their June estimate. USDA left unchanged their forecast that 2015 fed steers will average somewhere between $145 and $157 per hundred pounds.

Beef exports during May were up 3.7 per cent compared to a year earlier; beef imports were up 19.8 per cent . Exports were strong to Hong Kong, Mexico and South Korea, but weaker to Japan. Imports increased from Mexico, New Zealand and Canada.

Imports were larger than exports for the third consecutive month. May beef exports equaled 10.9 per cent of production while imports equaled 11.8 per cent of production. Through May, U.S. beef exports are up 6.4 per cent and imports are up 8.4 per cent . During May imports of live cattle were up 11 per cent from Canada and up 23 per cent from Mexico.

Fed cattle prices have eased back from last week's record highs. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $155.99/cwt, down $1.61 from last week's average, but up $34.75 from a year ago.

The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $247.22/cwt, down $2.26 from a week earlier, but up $55.49 from the same week last year.

Cattle slaughter totaled 576 thousand head this week. That was up 17.3 per cent from the holiday shortened week before but down 10.1 per cent from the same week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending on June 28 was 857 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and 2 pounds heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were lower on calves and steady to $4 higher than the week before on heavy weight feeders. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $283-$287, 450-500# no quote, 500-550# $245-$254, 550-600# $230.50-$265, 600-650# $224.50-$244, 650-700# $220-$234.50, 700-750# $213.50-$228.50, 750-800# $210-$223.50, 800-900# $204-$212.50, and 900-1000# $192.60-$196/cwt.

The August live cattle futures contract closed at $149.12/cwt today, down $5.88 from last week's close. October fed cattle settled at $151.65/cwt, down $5.25 for the week. The December contract ended the week at $153.00/cwt.

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