US to import more beef as processors call for extra efforts to drive Irish exports

The US is set to import more beef this year than expected, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

It says the appreciation of the US dollar relative to other world currencies has contributed to the underlying strength in beef imports this year.

In May, the US imported over 139,000t (+24.8%, year over year), with shipments from most major suppliers higher than in May 2014.

Although imports from New Zealand were higher year over year, it appears that the volume of beef shipped to the US has slowed down. The USDA says this is primarily the result of the seasonal decline in New Zealand cattle slaughter.

US trade with Australia remains robust as lingering drought conditions continue to support liquidation in major cattle-producing regions, increasing the availability of processing beef for US importers.

This week the USDA revised the 2015 import forecast 52,000t higher to 1.55m tonnes on continued strong demand for processing lean beef.

It has also lifted first-half 2016 exports 34,000t higher, bringing next year’s total import forecast to 131,000t.

Exports of US beef were reported at 87,000t in May, down a 14.4% from a year ago.

The USDA says very high domestic prices for US beef during May, combined with an appreciating US dollar, likely reduced foreign buying interest in the product.

In addition, it says exports will likely remain constrained due to relatively small domestic beef supplies.

Consequently, its forecast for US beef exports for 2015 was lowered to 1.1m tonne due to smaller than anticipated beef shipments in the second quarter.

‘Extra efforts’ needed for Irish beef

Speaking after the most recent meeting of the Beef Roundtable, Meat Industry Ireland Chairman Philip Carroll said open access to markets is essential to success at all levels in the meat chain.

He said extra efforts are urgently needed to ensure that key markets, such as the US and China are fully open.

This, he said will allow processors to secure a growing share of these markets, creating a solid foundation to increase this share when additional product becomes available in the coming years.