US imported beef prices edge lower

02 March 2017

US imported beef prices were mixed this week but most edged slightly lower as packers were looking to generate more interest in the market. However, many end users are still reluctant to enter the market with prices at these levels – as imported grinding beef prices continue to trade at a premium to domestic beef. At the same time though, some of the larger end users are struggling to fill orders in the current market, with spot supplies still very tight.

In the weekly update commissioned by MLA, the Steiner Consulting Group reported that the imported 90CL beef indicator eased 3.5US¢ from week-ago levels, to 206US¢/lb CIF (down 8 A¢, to 592.67A¢/kg CIF).

Supply out of Australia and New Zealand remains tight; Steiner Consulting Group reports that imports from Australia in February were back 37% year-on-year. New Zealand has not been able to take up the short fall though, as shipments to the US in January were up only 2% year-on-year. Tight supplies have been somewhat prolonged in New Zealand as higher than average rainfall has led to lower than expected slaughter numbers through January and February. Shipments from Mexico have remained strong in the last two months, assisted by the weak Mexican Peso but also due to uncertainty surrounding future trade conditions.

Steiner Consulting Group reports that cow and bull slaughter in the US is currently 11% higher year-on-year. Higher prices for grinding beef and warm weather conditions have helped bring more cattle to market. Steiner anticipate cow slaughter in the US to be 7-10% higher year-on-year and for the beef trade deficit in the US to dissipate during 2017 as US exports are likely to surpass imports.

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