This month’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, revealed that beef exports were down 2.6% on the previous year, an improvement on the -19.3% seen in January. Exports to Hong Kong (-18.2%), Canada (-17.8%) and Mexico (-16.4%) were all down, however its largest market Japan increased its supplies by 9.3%.
Cattle imports remained weaker in February, as they did the previous month, compared to the same period last year; down 6.2%. Imports from Mexico were up by 3.5% year-on-year, however imports of Canadian cattle saw a drop of 15.2% on last year’s figures. Overall cattle imports look set to be down 50,000 head from March, but demand for imported cattle looks set to remain strong due to tight US cattle inventory.
US beef imports were up 48.8% in February, on the comparable period last year - a decline on the 63.7% increase seen in January - predominately due to increased shipments from Australia (+44%). Brazil also increased its supplies to the US - up 309.1%, as did Mexico (+44%), and New Zealand (+16.9%). Imports for the year are estimated to reach 2.9bn pounds (lbs).
Indications are that pork production in 2015 will be up on last year (+6.1%), with lower hog prices compared with 2014. Exports were down more than 10% on February 2014, "likely due to the relatively high exchange rate values of the US dollar and a slowdown at West Coast port facilities", according to the report, and are estimated to be down 16% in the first quarter on last year.
On a more positive note, the report said that exports to Mexico and Canada were up year-on-year, with Mexico the largest foreign destination for US pork exports in 2014. However exports to most Asian countries were lower in February, due in part to the West Coast port dispute, but also the low price of European pork.
Imports in February were up 84m lbs (+32%), and are likely to be almost 44% up on 2014 figures for the first quarter.
Broiler meat production was up 2% for the first two months of this year, at 6.3bn lbs, due to a small increase in the number of birds slaughtered, and their average liveweight. While turkey meat production is forecast to reach 1.4bn lbs in the first quarter - 25m lbs less than the previous estimate, but still 7% up on 2014.
Exports of both turkey and broiler meat were down in February on 2014, -7.6% and -17% respectively. For broiler meat, the top countries for exports included Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and Cuba, with large year-on-year increases of +100% were seen in Taiwan, and also Vietnam. However losses were seen in Angola, Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Cuba, and other countries have US-wide poultry bans in effect due to the current outbreaks of avian influenza in the country.
Turkey meat exports are expected to fall 10.% in 2015, to 720m lbs, with broiler exports forecast to see a 8.5% decrease on 2014.