July 21, 2008


US beef imports decline, exports projected to keep rising

US beef imports have decreased 22 percent year-to-date but exports are expected to keep on rising, according to USDA's latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.


The report said that the weak US dollar, high cattle slaughter and high supplies have pulled down beef imports - the weak dollar made imports expensive while slaughter rate has remained above last year's levels and is expected to remain so through the second and third quarters.


Supplies of lean-processing meat will further depress the domestic demand for imported meat from Australia and New Zealand. Beef imports from Uruguay have also declined significantly as it turns to the more lucrative markets of Russia and the EU, according to the report.


Quantities of imported beef have been declining steadily since the beginning of the year, especially from Brazil and Argentina, whose exports to the US are limited to thermo-processed beef products and account for about 80 percent of such imports, the report said.


Total beef imports are expected to reach 2.7 billion pounds, down 12 percent from last year, the report said. However, the report projected a rebound of beef imports in 2009 to 2.9 billion pounds.


Meanwhile, US beef exports to Japan has increased in the second quarter as Japan entered its Golden Week holiday period. The report said strong exporting results have been announced from April to June, although export levels have not come close to reaching their pre-BSE levels in 2003.


Despite the negative response to US beef in South Korea, the report said beef exports to the Asian country are expected to gradually increase into next year.


The report also said US beef shipments to Mexico, Canada and other new trading partners such as Vietnam have also helped exports to grow in 2008 from last year.


Beef exports this year are expected to increase 19 percent to 1.7 billion pounds while next year's exports are expected to grow an additional 11 percent to 1.89 billion pounds, the report said.

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