Cattle Outlook: US Beef Exports Down Nearly 12 Per Cent in 2015

US - US beef imports were down 35.2 per cent in December at 186.2 million pounds, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 16 February 2016
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Over half of the decline was in beef imported from Australia. December imports equalled 9.1 per cent of US beef production. For all of 2015, beef imports were up 14.4 per cent.

US beef exports were down 7.6 per cent in December to 196.1 million pounds with most major foreign customers, except South Korea, buying less US beef than they did in December 2014.

December exports equalled 9.6 per cent of US beef production. For all of 2015, beef exports were down 11.9 per cent.

December live cattle imports totalled 155,636 head. This was down 43.7 per cent compared to 12 months earlier with 36.4 per cent fewer Mexican cattle imported and 53.8 per cent fewer cattle imported from Canada. The US exported 8,202 cattle during December.

For all of 2015, the US imported 1,984,413 cattle and exported 72,456 head. During 2015, 58.2 per cent of cattle imports came from Mexico and 41.8 per cent of the cattle imports came from Canada. 81 per cent of US cattle exported went to either Canada or Mexico. Last year's US cattle imports were 15.8 per cent fewer than in 2014, and the fewest for any year since 2005.

Fed cattle prices were a bit lower this week in heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $131.70/cwt, down 50 cents from last week's average and down $28.84 from a year ago. Dressed steer prices averaged $205.96/cwt.

Friday's choice boxed beef cutout value was $216.67/cwt, down $5.83 from the previous Friday and down $21.42 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $213.27/cwt, down $5.18 from last week and down $21.10 from a year ago.

Last week's cattle slaughter totalled 544,000 head, up 1.9 per cent from last week and up 0.7 per cent from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on January 30 was 898 pounds, down 1 pound from the week before, but up 17 pounds from a year ago. This was the 85th consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.

Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were $2 to $5 lower on feeder steers and steady to $2 higher on calves than last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $221-$226, 450-500# $204-$217, 500-550# $192.50-$210, 550-600# $172-$195, 600-650# $164-$178, 650-700# $152.50-$165, 700-750# $146-$161.75, 750-800# $140.50-$153.50, 800-900# $137-$152 and 900-1000# $130-$144.75/cwt.

Cattle futures were sharply lower this week. The February live cattle futures contract settled at $129.95/cwt today, down $6.10 for the week. April fed cattle settled at $129.12/cwt, down $5.28 from the previous week. The June contract ended the week at $119.62/cwt, down $4.43 from the previous Friday.

March feeder cattle ended the week at $150.02/cwt, down $3.80 from a week earlier. April futures lost $3.97 this week to close at $149.50/cwt. May feeder cattle settled at $148.82/cwt.

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