US imported beef market favouring lean meat

02 July 2015

Prices in the US imported beef market were steady to higher for leaner beef cuts and trim, but cheaper for product below 90CL, according to this week’s survey of importers and report prepared by the Steiner Consulting Group. The 90CL cow beef indicator was 2US¢ higher this week, to 224US¢/lb CIF (up 10.1A¢, to 644.4A¢/kg CIF).

There are a few key factors resulting in the cheaper fattier trimmings products at the moment, including: relatively larger supplies of fat trim as a result of fed cattle being finished at heavier weights – exacerbated by the fact feedlots are no longer using Zilmax, which encouraged lean weight gain, as opposed to fat gain; weaker demand for US short plates in export markets; and a preference for lean ground beef in US retail.

A couple of those points have a direct relationship with why lean trimmings products are moving up, including higher retail demand for lean, and relatively lower supplies of lean compared to fat trim from US feedlots. In addition, the lower price of fat trim means that end users have a greater ability to pay a slightly higher price for lean meat to mix for their final ground beef products.

The US import figures for 29 June show customs entries of Australian beef had reached 47.1% of the annual quota (or 197,011 out of 418,214 tonnes) – essentially just less than half of the quota half way through the year. However, Australian exporters and other interested parties should note the Australian export figures maintained by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, as these figures determine quota triggers and allocation.

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