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Beef and cattle trade boosting cattle markets

Contributed by Derrell S. Peel Published on 13 January 2022

Beef exports continued on a record pace in the latest data for November. Total beef exports were up 8.1% in November and are up 18.5% year over year for the first 11 months of the year.

The China/Hong Kong (HK) market remains the fastest growing beef export market, up 110% for the year to date. The China/HK market is the third-largest market, accounting for a 19.3% share of total beef exports through November, behind No. 1 Japan (24.2% share) and No. 2 South Korea at 23% of year-to-date exports. Beef exports to Mexico are up 7% so far in 2021 but were down 36.7% year over year in the month of November. Exports to Canada were up 20.9% year over year in November but are down 4.7% for the January-November period.

Total beef imports were 27.5% higher year over year in November but are down 1.8% for the year to date for the January-November period. Beef imports from Canada were up 14.4% for the first 11 months of the year. Canada is currently the largest source of beef imports, accounting for 28.6% of beef imports thus far in 2021. Mexico is the second-ranked beef import source with year-to-date imports up slightly at 0.3% compared to last year. Mexico accounts for 20.1% of beef imports through November. Year-to-date beef imports from New Zealand through November were down 1.7%, with the country the third-largest beef import source at 15.5% of total beef imports in 2021. Australia is currently the fourth-largest source of beef imports, accounting for 12.4% of imports and down from second place in 2020. Year-to-date beef imports from Australia through November were down 38.9% year over year.

Live cattle imports from both Canada and Mexico were down for the first 11 months of 2021. Total cattle imports were down 17%, with imports from Canada down 7.1% and Mexico down 21.9% for the year to date. Cattle exports were higher to Canada and Mexico by 69.1% year over year for the January to November period in 2021. Net cattle imports through November were down 32% compared to the previous year.

Beef byproducts, which are mostly exported, had significantly higher value in 2021, averaging nearly 54% higher year over year. Byproduct value increases were led by sharply higher tallow prices, both edible and inedible, (up 71% and 95%, respectively) and hide prices (up 62% year over year). Prices were also higher for liver, tongue, tripe and cheek meat. Weekly byproduct values peaked in November and declined to the end of the year but were still 51% higher year over year in late December. 

Beef and cattle trade is projected to be generally supportive in 2022. Beef exports are forecast to pull back slightly in the coming year, but lower imports are also forecast this year. After more than a year of extremely rapid growth, the China/HK market for U.S. beef was growing at a slower pace at the end of 2021 but continued growth is expected and could push China/HK above South Korea or possibly Japan in the foreseeable future.  end mark

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 10, 2022, OSU Cow/Calf Corner newsletter.

Derrell S. Peel
  • Derrell S. Peel

  • Livestock Marketing Specialist
  • Oklahoma State University Extension

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