US beef imports decline 16% on June 2015 levels

US beef imports have declined 16% year-on-year, the latest Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook from the USDA has found.

Beef imports were reported at 284m pounds in June, a decrease of about 16% relative to a year ago.

Through June, total imports were down 13% as a result of dramatically smaller volumes of beef imported from Australia and New Zealand.

Beef imports from Brazil, Uruguay, and Nicaragua have also been sluggish through June, the USDA found but the scenario of declining beef imports from Brazil will likely reverse later in the year.

USDA-FSIS has approved the import of fresh/frozen beef from Brazil, while Brazil approved the import of US fresh/frozen beef.

Fresh/frozen beef from Brazil will add to the volumes of thermally cooked and processed beef currently accepted into the US, the USDA has said.

Increases in the forecasts of second-half 2016 total beef imports (+35m pounds) and first-half 2017 beef imports (+50m pounds) largely reflect the expectation of larger volumes of beef flowing into the US from Brazil.

The 2016 beef import forecast is 3 billion pounds, down 12% on a yearly basis. Beef imports are also expected to decline even further in 2017 to 2.6 billion pounds.

June beef exports

US beef exports in June were modestly lower (-0.5%) than the previous year at 213m pounds, but were down 3% from levels reported in May, USDA figures show.

Strong growth continues in Japan, with exports up 20% from June 2015. In June, beef exports to South Korea increased only 1%, while it estimates that beef exports to Mexico grew approximately 6% on a yearly basis.

Declines in exports to Canada (-8%), Hong Kong (-32%) and Taiwan (-21%) partially offset increases in total beef exports in June.

For January through June, the figures show that total US beef exports were 2% higher than a year earlier.

Though beef exports appeared lackluster through June, shipments abroad are expected to gain momentum, increasing approximately 22% and 7% over a year earlier in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.

Total US beef exports are forecast at 2.5 billion pounds in 2016, up about 8% over 2015. Beef exports in 2017 are forecast at 2.6 billion pounds, up 5% relative to 2016.