Compared to their February forecasts, USDA's March WASDE lowered their estimate of 2015 beef production by 0.7%, increased their pork estimate by 0.1%, and upped expected broiler production by 0.2%. They lowered their estimate of 2015 exports for each of the major meats. USDA is now predicting a 3.1% increase in red meat and poultry production in 2015 compared to last year. That translates into 6.7 pounds more meat per person.
Record U.S. beef prices, a strong dollar, and labor problems at west coast ports have had a negative impact on beef trade. Year-over-year beef imports were up 63.7% in January with all major suppliers shipping more beef to the U.S. U.S. beef exports were down 19.3% in January compared to 12 months earlier with a decline in shipments to most major customers. January beef exports equaled 8.28% of U.S. production, the smallest share since September 2010. January beef imports equaled 15.1% of production, the largest share since July 2006. Cattle imports from Canada were down 25.9% in January. Cattle imports from Mexico were down 2.7% compared to January 2014.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $244.07/cwt, down $4.92 from the previous Friday, but up $3.44 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $244.59/cwt this morning, down $1.04 from last week, but up $7.80 from a year ago. This is the first time the cutout value for select carcasses has been above choice cutout since January 31, 2014.
Fed cattle prices were higher this week on light sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $160.78/cwt, up $2.91 from last week's average and up $12.86 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $259.09/cwt, up $9.09 for the week and up $19.29 compared to a year ago.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 524,000 head, down 2.4% from the week before and down 8.7% from the same week last year.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on February 28 was 875 pounds, down 5 pounds from the week before, but up 12 pounds compared to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago each week since June 14, 2014.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mixed this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $297-$312, 450-500# $282.60-$294, 500-550# $274-$299.50, 550-600# $265-$287, 600-650# $244-$260, 650-700# $235-$242, 700-750# $209-$225.50, 750-800# $203.25-$219.50, 800-900# $183-$205.50, 900-1000#, $175.75-$193/cwt.
The April live cattle futures contract settled at $154.27/cwt today, down 38 cents for the week. June fed cattle settled at $145.27/cwt, down $1.83 from the previous Friday. August fed cattle lost $1.30 this week to settle at $143.62/cwt.
The March feeder cattle contract ended the week at $213.12/cwt, up $3.40 for the week. April feeders settled at $211.22/cwt which is $2.65 higher than the Friday before.