Cattle Outlook: Meat Demand Slows in First Half of 2016

US - The August WASDE predicts this fall will bring our first 15 billion bushel corn harvest and the first 4 billion bushel soybean harvest. This is good news for feeder cattle prices, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 15 August 2016
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US beef exports during June were down 0.5 per cent compared to a year ago. Japan, South Korea, Canada and Mexico, respectively, were the top three destinations for US beef exports in June. Beef exports were up 2.0 per cent during the first half of 2016.

Beef imports were down 16.3 per cent in June and down 13.0 per cent in the first half of 2016. A lot less beef is coming in from Australia because of better grazing conditions there.

Imports of live cattle from Canada were down 6.9 per cent in June and down 10.4 per cent in the first half of 2016. Cattle imports from Mexico were down 42.6 per cent in June and down 16.0 per cent in the first half compared to January-June 2015.

Domestic demand for beef was up 2.2 per cent in June, but down 1.8 per cent in the first half of 2016. Lacklustre growth in the US economy has left meat demand slightly lower than last year. Overall meat demand was down 1.1 per cent during January-June compared to a year earlier. Export

Last week fed cattle prices were lower in moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $116.91/cwt, down $2.03 from the previous week's average and down $35.82 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $186.86/cwt, down $1.06 from the week before and down $52.43 from a year ago.

Beef cutout was higher last week. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $201.51/cwt, up $2.56 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout on Friday morning was $193.51/cwt, up $3.06 from the previous week.

Last week's cattle slaughter totalled 581,000 head, down 0.7 per cent from the previous week, but up 6.8 per cent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on July 30 was 883 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before, down 3 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 13th consecutive week.

The August live cattle futures contract settled at $116.32/cwt on Friday, down $1.35 for the week. October fed cattle settled at $114.52/cwt, down $1.00 from the previous Friday. December fed cattle futures settled at $115.05/cwt.

August feeder cattle futures ended the week at $149.07/cwt, down 58 cents from a week earlier. September feeder cattle gained 35 cents this week to settle at $147.55/cwt. October feeder cattle closed the week up 38 cents at $144.25/cwt.

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