US beef import industry aided by the US dollar

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

America's beef imports have increased 40% due to the strong US dollar
America's beef imports have increased 40% due to the strong US dollar

Related tags Beef International trade Import Export Us

The strong US dollar is contributing to a growth in the country’s imports of beef and a slowdown in its beef export business, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), a trend likely to continue for the remainder of 2015.

According to USDA figures just published, US beef imports in June were 40% higher than the same month last year, reaching 816,000 tonnes (t).

Imports of lean beef for processing from Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay have remained above 2014 levels through the first and second quarters of this year. Imports of processed beef from Brazil and chilled beef from Mexico have also been higher year-on-year, said the USDA. However, imports from Australia have increased the most year-on-year as a result of lingering drought conditions and brisk herd liquidation.

Cattle prices have remained high, due to the strong global demand for beef, especially from the US. From January through to June, total beef imports from Australia were up a little over 65%. It is expected that imports of processing beef will remain brisk through the third quarter as a result of low cow slaughter, the strong demand for processing beef, and competitively priced imported product. Fourth-quarter imports remain unchanged from the previous month’s estimate, and total US beef imports for 2015 are forecast at 1.54 million tonnes, over 17% higher than 2014 levels.  

According to the most recent monthly export data, declines in US beef exports to top destinations such as Japan, Mexico, and Hong Kong have more than offset increases in beef shipped to South Korea during the first half of the year. Between January and June, total beef exports to South Korea were up approximately 8% compared to the previous year.

However, growth in overall beef exports so far this year has largely been obstructed by a stronger US dollar and sluggish global demand for relatively high-priced US beef, the USDA said.  Total beef exports in June were a little over 9% lower than the same period in 2014. Top US beef export markets such as Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong have all shown noticeable declines through the first half of the year. Beef exports to

Japan were higher year-on-year during April but began to fizzle in May and June. These factors will likely to continue to be a drag on exports through the remainder of the year, the USDA said. Total beef exports for 2015 are expected to reach 1.04 million tonnes, about 8% lower than 2014.  

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