When all was said and done last week, negotiated cash fed cattle trade ended up $2 higher in the Southern Plains at $126/cwt. on a live basis, and steady to $4 higher in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt at mostly $130. Dressed trade was $2-$4 higher at $208.
Futures and equity markets were closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.
Wholesale beef values were firm to higher on moderate to good demand and moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 59¢ higher Friday afternoon at $233.65/cwt. Select was $1.03 higher at $220.49.
Although U.S. beef exports to most countries remained higher year over in February, they declined 6% overall on a volume basis to 94,855 metric tons and 3% on a value basis to $581.6 million, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
January-February exports were 3% below last year’s record pace in volume (199,651 mt) but steady in value at $1.22 billion. The volume decline was mainly due to lower exports to Hong Kong and Canada, according to USMEF. Exports to Hong Kong were 40% less for volume and 35% less in terms of value. Exports to Canada were down 15% in volume and 13% in value.
Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $309.39 in February, down 4% from a year earlier. The January-February average was down 3% to $296.19.
Although progress is reportedly being made in resolving a bevy of U.S.-international trade issues, USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says missed opportunities for export growth are mounting.
“On the beef side there is still much to be excited about, especially with the launch of U.S.-Japan trade agreement talks,” Halstrom says. “A great deal is at stake for both U.S. beef and U.S. pork in those negotiations, as exports to Japan deliver remarkable returns for the entire U.S. supply chain and it is essential that we get back on a level playing field with our competitors.”
Beef exports to leading market Japan remained strong in February, pushing January-February exports 8% above last year’s pace in volume (47,695 mt) and 10% higher in value ($309.3 million).
U.S. pork exports continue to bear most of the losses from trade issues.
Pork export volume was down 9% in February year over year, to 186,745 metric tons (mt), while export value dropped 17% to $455.9 million — the lowest monthly value total since February 2016. For January through February, pork exports were 5% below last year’s pace in volume (388,580 mt) and 13% lower in value ($950 million).
Although demand for imported pork may be increasing in China/Hong Kong due to African Swine Fever, USMEF notes that China’s retaliatory duties make it difficult for the U.S. industry to capitalize. The duty rate on U.S. pork is 62%, compared to 12% for other suppliers. Through February, exports to China/Hong Kong were down 22% from a year ago and value was 34% less.