Cattle Outlook: Strong Dollar, High Beef Prices Change Trade

US - The US beef trade balance has swung to favour imports, with exports from the US down 3.9 per cent.
calendar icon 13 October 2014
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

August beef imports were running 45.8 per cent higher, largely due to a surge in product coming from Australia, according to Professors Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri.

This is due to a stronger US$ and record cattle values. 

They write that, markedly less beef was exported to Canada, Egypt and Mexico. Imports equalled 12.1 per cent of August beef production while beef exports equalled 11.4 per cent of U.S. production.

Imports of cattle from Mexico were up 41.3 per cent compared to August 2013. Cattle imports from Canada were up 19.4 per cent in August.

Retail beef demand in August was up 9.4 per cent compared to a year ago. Export demand for U.S. beef was up 12.4 per cent in August. Retail pork demand was 2.9 per cent stronger than in August 2013, while chicken demand was down 1.5 per cent and retail turkey demand was 4.1 per cent lower than in August 2013.

USDA has increased their forecast of 2014 beef production by 0.1 per cent and raised their forecast for 2015 by 0.6 per cent. The October WASDE is forecasting slaughter steers will average close to $153/cwt of live weight this year and between $149 and $162/cwt next year.

Boxed beef cutout value was sharply higher this week. The cutout value for choice carcasses this morning was $247.70/cwt, up $8.62 from last Friday. The select cutout was $235.12/cwt on today's morning report, up $8.32 for the week.

Fed cattle prices rose this week on heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $163.54/cwt, up $3.56 from last week's average. The 5 area average dressed price for steers gained $5.79 this week to $257.79/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 562 thousand head, down 2.6 per cent from the week before and 7.7 per cent lower than the same week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending September 27 was 893 pounds, up 6 pounds from the week before and 26 pounds heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices were mostly $5 to $12 higher this week at Oklahoma City. This week's price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $302-$321, 450-500# $281-$317.75, 500-550# $274-$305, 550-600# $250-$289, 600-650# $224-$277.50, 650-700# $229-$262.50, 700-750# $231-$261, 750-800# $219.50-$247, 800-900# $224.50-$238.75, and 900-1000# $207-$224/cwt.

The October live cattle futures contract closed at $164.90/cwt today, up $2.50 on the week. December fed cattle settled at $165.30/cwt, down 57 cents for the week. The February contract ended the week at $165.00/cwt.

The October feeder cattle contract lost 37 cents this week to end at $240.50/cwt. November feeders closed at $239.20/cwt, down $1.77 for the week. The January feeder cattle contract ended the week at $233.10/cwt.

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