The United States has imported 1.697 billion pounds of beef through July, a 13-percent increase year-to-date. Monthly import totals continue to be lower than the volumes imported earlier in the year. The United States is expected to import 2.815 billion pounds of beef in 2009, an 11-percent increase from last year. In 2010, beef imports are expected to increase 6 percent to 2.975 billion pounds.

Monthly imports from Australia have declined since the April total of 104 million pounds, which was a 5-year high for monthly imports from Australia. The U.S. dollar has been steadily weakening since March, which has led to a greater share of Australian beef exports to Japan, South Korea, and other smaller markets in the ensuing months. U.S. imports of Australian beef are currently more in line with historical averages for 2009, after 2008 volumes were considerably lower as emerging markets received a greater share of Australia’s exports.

Through July, the United States exported 1.021 billion pounds of beef, nearly unchanged from last year. The third quarter of 2008 had exceptionally high totals of beef exports, compared with totals over the past 4 years. As a result, cumulative export totals through the rest of the year should begin to lag behind last year. Beef exports are expected to fall 8 percent in 2009, but are expected to increase nearly 7 percent in 2010.

U.S. exports to Japan continue to grow compared with last year, by more than 12-percent year-to-date. The Japanese yen has remained relatively weak against the dollar, making U.S. product relatively cheaper in Japan and more competitive with Australian beef products.

Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, USDA