November 10, 2008


Canada's cattle update on beef imports


Total beef and cattle imports from January to August have not changed that much from a year ago with value up 7.3 percent at US$620,000 and $577,000.


However, there have been some differences in the breakdown of imports by country.


Beef imports from the US are 25 percent higher at 192 million lbs for the January to August 2008 time period compared to 154 million lbs for the same period in 2007. 


Looking at other countries; imports from Australia are 13 percent lower than 2007 at 12 million lbs, New Zealand is 16 percent lower at 38 million lbs, the EU is down 88 percent at 0.005 million lbs, Brazil is down 40 percent at 4.9 million lbs. Argentina is up 17 percent from 2007 volumes at 1.6 million lbs, Uruguay is down 74 percent of 2007 at 9.8 million lbs and other sources are down 7 percent from 2007 levels at 0.06 million lbs.


It is worth noting that imports from China last year were at 0.06 million lbs and this year, no beef or cattle were imported from China yet. Although the imports have increased from Argentina and the US and decreased from most other countries, total beef imports for January to August 2008 are nearly the same as the same time period in 2007, down 3 percent or 266 million lbs. 


Canada's beef trade exports of 1,248 million lbs for the January to August period are 369 percent larger than beef imports. In other words Canada imports about 21 percent of what US exports in terms of volume. In dollar terms, imports are about 33 percent of exports. This difference in volume to value is attributed to the numbers of live cattle to be processed in the US compared to the processed meats with more value imported into Canada from the US and other countries. 


In 2008, our most significant trading partner is the US supplying Canada with 74 percent of imported beef and cattle imports. With the Looney (Canadian dollar coin) losing value to the US Greenback (US dollar), there is likely to be a decline of imports going through the end of 2008 as it puts US beef at a price disadvantage.


If the volume of processed beef continues at the same rate, there is likely a shift to imports from other countries and away from the US. Overall, there should not be too much of a change in 2008 volumes compared to 2007 with the year ending around 400 million lbs. However, there should be about a 10 percent increase in dollar value of imports at around US$900 million dollars.

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