Falling cattle herd sees US beef exports slide 6%

Following a robust performance in the first half year in spite of lower production, US beef exports were back 6% on the year in Q3 of 2014 to 214,900 tonnes.

According to EBLEX this decline was a direct result of an 8% drop in US cattle slaughtering in the July to September period.

EBLEX says the US beef industry is suffering from the seven-year decline in the cattle herd and livestock prices have reached record levels in recent months.

Consequently, it says US competitiveness has weakened on the global market, which may have partly contributed to lower exports in the latest quarter.

Despite the downturn in volume, given the record high beef prices, the value of US exports in the three month period totalled $1.6 billion, up 12% on the year earlier, EBLEX says.

Markets

According to EBLEX, Japan has strengthened its position as the key market for US beef exports, accounting for 30% of all shipments.

Yet despite increased trade to this key market, EBLEX also notes that total exports were subdued by lower shipments to Mexico (down 3%), Hong Kong (down 15%) and Canada (down 31%).

In contrast, it says trade to South Korea increased by 18% in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2013.

EBLEX says despite the mixed picture painted by US export figures for the Asian markets, its worth noting that Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea together still accounted for over half of the total supplies.

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