U.S. beef exports during September were up 9.1% compared to a year earlier with big increases in tonnage going to Hong Kong, Mexico, and Japan. September beef imports were up 10.2% due to more beef coming in from Canada and Australia. September beef exports equaled 10.2% of production; imports equaled 7.5% of production. September was the fifth consecutive month with larger beef exports than imports.
During the first 9 months of 2013, U.S. beef exports totaled 1.9 billion pounds, up 3.9% compared to a year earlier with large increases in shipments to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada. January-September beef imports totaled 1.7 billion pounds which was down 1.8% compared to last year. The biggest decline in imports was beef from Canada and Australia.
During September, cattle imports from Mexico were down 2,960 head. Cattle imports from Canada were up by 32,165 head.
USDA's November outlook forecast has 2014 beef production down 5.9% from this year's level. They believe that high feeder cattle prices will cause cow-calf producers to save more heifers for breeding and slow herd culling. USDA is predicting 2014 slaughter steer prices will average between $126 and $137/cwt of live weight. That will make 2014 the fifth consecutive record year for fed cattle prices.
Fed cattle prices stayed above $130 for the fourth consecutive week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $130.85/cwt, down 10 cents from the week before, but up $5.91 from the same week last year. Steers sold on a dressed basis averaged $205.00/cwt this week, down $1.04 from last week's record but $9.87 higher than a year ago.
This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $201.20/cwt, down $1.90 from the previous Friday but up $8.37 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $188.24/cwt, down $1.62 for the week but up $15.91 from the same day last year.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 627,000 head, down 1.3% from last week and down 4.5% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on November 2 was 877 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 4 pounds from a year earlier.
Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices were steady this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $195-$226, 450-500# $194.50-$217, 500-550# $183-$214.50, 550-600# $175-$192, 600-650# $156-$180, 650-700# $157-$172.10, 700-750# $157-$169.50, 750-800# $151-$168.75, 800-900# $156.50-$166.50, and 900-1000# none.
The December live cattle futures contract closed at $133.40/cwt today, up $1.00 from last week's close. February fed cattle settled at $134.80, up 85 cents for the week. April settled at $135.02/cwt.
Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown