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US meat international meat trade looks positive

US meat international meat trade looks positive
International meat trade moderates effects of increased US meat production as exports grow and imports shrink.


The latest international meat trade data is generally positive.

U.S. meat exports continued to grow, year-over-year, in the latest trade data for August. Beef exports were up 29.5% from last year, along with pork exports up 11.4% and broiler exports up 16.7%.

Additionally, beef imports were down 16.0% in August, while cattle imports were down 18.0%, compared with levels one year ago. Total US red meat and poultry production in 2016 is projected to increase 2.7% over 2015 levels. However, nearly half of that increase is expected to move off-shore, with net meat exports projected to increase 11.5% compared with 2015. This will hold domestic meat consumption to a projected 1.3% year over year increase.

Beef leads the way in 2016 with production projected to increase roughly 4.6% over year-ago levels. In terms of quantity, the U.S. will continue to be a net beef importer in 2016, but a nearly 60% decrease in net beef imports will limit domestic beef consumption to a projected increase of 1.7% year-over-year.

Export specifics

Beef exports to Japan were up 43.1% in August with a year-to-date total up 12.1%, when compared with last year's exports.

Beef exports to South Korea were up 70.4% in August and are up 26.9% for the first eight months of 2016, compared with levels one year ago.

August beef exports to Mexico were up 30.3%, year over year, with a year-to-date total up 12.3%.

Beef exports to Hong Kong were up 35.6% in August, but remain 6.6% below 2015 for the year to date.

Among major U.S. beef export destinations, only Canada was down with a 14.3% decrease in August and 9.7% lower total for the year to date. 

Import specifics

Beef imports from Australia continued sharply lower with a 50.7% year-over-year decrease in August and a year-to-date total down 34.1% from 2015.

Beef imports from New Zealand were down 22.8% in August and are down 6.2% for the first eight months of 2016, compared with levels one year ago.

Imports of beef from Mexico continue strong, with August up 31.0%, resulting in year-to-date imports up 10.4%, year over year.

Beef imports from Canada were also up 14.7% and are up 14.1% for the year to date, compared with imports last year. 

Lesser markets

Among the minor markets for US beef imports, Nicaragua was up 256.2% in August, although the year-to-date total remains down 6.2% compared with imports one year ago. It is possible that the August jump in beef shipments from Nicaragua is a move to capture more of the "Other Countries" share of the US tariff rate quota (TRQ) before Brazil began shipments of fresh/frozen beef to the US.

Imports of Brazilian beef will also fall under the Other Countries portion of the beef import TRQ, which amounted to 8.7% of the total TRQ for all countries in 2015. Those shipments began in late September and may show up as modest year-over-year increases in beef imports from Brazil in the fourth quarter. Beef imports from Brazil were up 9.1% in August but remain 22.0% below last year for the year to date. However, the impact of more Brazilian access to the U.S. beef market is expected to be limited. For the year to date, Brazil represents 4.1% of total beef imports while Nicaragua is another 3.2%. Imports of fresh/frozen beef from Brazil will compete economically with other import sources such as Nicaragua, Australia and New Zealand.

Thus, not only are Brazilian beef imports limited by the TRQ but will also likely partially substitute for other beef imports, limiting the impact on total beef imports.

Peel is extension livestock marketing specialist for Oklahoma State University.

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