U.S. beef imports through February are 4 percent higher year-over-year. Through February, U.S. beef imports from Australia have been only moderately below a year ago and imports from New Zealand have been 43 percent higher, year-over-year. Imports from Canada are 29 percent lower, while imports from Mexico are 30 percent higher. Total beef imports for 2013 are expected to be 16 percent higher, year-over-year, increasing in strength as the year progresses and as domestic beef production and cow slaughter tightens. First- and second-quarter imports are forecast at 600 and 695 million pounds, or 3 and 4 percent higher than a year ago, respectively. Third- and fourth-quarter imports are expected to be 29 and 34 percent higher than year-earlier levels.

Cattle imports from Mexico tighten as imports from Canada begin to rebound
Cattle imports to the United States are expected to tighten in 2013 as Mexico’s herd continues to contract. U.S. cattle imports through February were 7 percent lower than a year ago. This reduction resulted from lower Mexican cattle imports, which were 32 percent lower through February. Imports from Canada through February were 58 percent higher. This trend may be in play at least for 2013, as exports from Mexico are expected to continue tightening while Canadian exports rebound with gradual herd-size recovery. Total cattle imports for 2013 are forecast at 2.15 million head, or 5 percent below 2012 levels.