CME: Total Beef Exports in March Higher Than a Year Ago

Tue, 08 May 2018

US - Beef and pork export data on a product weight basis were released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday. The following day the Economic Research Service of the USDA issued the carcass weight trade statistics, reports Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

Carcass wt. calculations are done using specified conversion factors and there is often a slight difference between the y/y change on a product weight and carcass weight basis.

For those looking to know the exact difference in terms of export volumes and $ sales from one year to the next, we think the Census data provides the most exact measure.

However, there is a very good reason for looking at export numbers on a carcass weight basis - it allows for a comparison with the production data which is reported on a carcass weight basis.

Below are some of the highlights from this latest report:

Total beef exports in March were 260.6 million pounds (carcass wt.), 26.6 million pounds (+11.4 per cent) higher than the same period a year ago.

Japan remains the biggest market for US beef, purchasing 75.6 million pounds in March, 1.2 per cent more than the previous year.

South Korea was the second largest market in terms of volume but it contributed more than half of the growth in March. Total exports to South Korea were 49.4 million pounds, 13.6 million pounds (+38 per cent) higher than a year ago.

In the first three months of the year exports to South Korea have been a total of 135.8 million pounds, 30.3 million pounds (+29 per cent) higher than a year ago.

Consider that total US beef production in the first quarter of the year increased by 162 million pounds, with about 20 per cent of that growth going to one market. This strong demand has supported prices for items that traditionally go to this market, such as chuck rolls, briskets and short plates.

Total US beef exports in the first quarter of the year were 730.1 million pounds, 79.3 million pounds (+12 per cent) higher than a year ago. Exports represented 11.3 per cent of US beef production in the first quarter, while export growth absorbed almost half of the overall increase in US beef production for the quarter.

Only part of the increase in exports was offset by an increase in beef imports. Total beef imports in Q1 were 721.9 million pounds, 22.8 million pounds (+3.3 per cent) higher than a year ago. Adjusting total beef production in Q1 by the positive beef trade balance implies only a 1.7 per cent growth in total supply availability.

The table below also shows our early projections for beef exports in April and May. These are based on weekly export data through last week and an expectation that the trend will be sustained into May.