Price rise in US imported beef market

22 January 2018

It was a similar story for US imported beef prices this week – continuing to edge higher as a result of lower offerings from Australia and New Zealand and further weakness for the US dollar. 

The imported 90CL beef indicator moved 1US¢ higher from the previous week, to 204US¢/lb CIF (back 4A¢, to 564.10¢/kg CIF).

For the most part, overseas packers appear to have ample orders in place through to February and are therefore happy to hold firm on prices.

New Zealand bull slaughter seasonally increases through January/February and there was a notable increase in slaughter levels at the end of last year, however the market sentiment appears to conclude that an increase in prices means US end users are now short of beef supplies.

There is a possibility that New Zealand cow meat supplies will come to market earlier than that of last year. Excellent moisture conditions and robust dairy prices last year reduced the number of cows marketed in February and March. Drier conditions and easing dairy prices apparent so far this year could see slaughter consistent with 2015 levels.

Ground beef retail prices during the first three weeks of January were lower, as ground beef was featured more aggressively by retailers. The ground beef retail feature index, a measure of how often ground beef is featured, is up 30% compared to November/December levels.

Highlights from the week ending 19th January:

  • US government shutdown will not impact the work of food safety inspectors and imported beef will continue to be processed for entry, however US will stop issuing market reports, including price data from the Mandatory Price Reporting system
  • USDA currently forecasts US beef production for 2018 to be 27.8 billion pounds on a carcase weight basis (12.6 million MT), 6% higher than the year prior and the largest amount of beef ever produced in the US
  • US fed cattle slaughter last week was up 7.8% compared to the same week last year, while non-fed slaughter was up 2.7%

Click here to view the Steiner Consulting US imported beef market weekly update.

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