U.S. beef exports set new volume and value records

Jeff Swenson

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

Jeff Swenson

Retailers are purchasing beef for mid-summer needs, and that has supported wholesale beef prices.

The Choice beef carcass cutout was up $1.50 last week to end Friday at $267.89 and has made modest gains early in the week. Cash cattle are mixed with reports of steady to lower prices. Cattle are selling in a wide range with packers seeking higher-grading cattle. Feeder cattle prices at auctions are the highest since 2015.

Last week’s estimated harvest was 593,000 head, 43,000 head less than the previous week due to the holiday Monday. The total was 12,000 head higher than Independence Day week in 2021. Harvest pace has been brisk this week. Cassie Fish reported on the Beef Read website that there are 200,000 fewer fed cattle available from now until the end of the year compared to 2021.

Continued drought in Texas has caused large numbers of beef cows and early-weaned calves to be sold there.

Wholesale pork prices remain strong

Wholesale pork prices remain strong as the pork carcass cutout value jumped $5.30 last week to finish at $108.75 Friday with upward momentum is continuing this week. The cutout $118.28 this Wednesday.

The National Daily Direct weighted average hog price was $91.80/cwt live and $122.42/cwt on a carcass July 13. Estimated harvest last week totaled 1.983 million hogs, 298,000 hogs below the previous week but 67,000 hogs more than the holiday week in 2021.

An article by Steve Meyer for National Hog Farmer noted that consumer-level pork demand has been growing since 2018, although consumption has been relatively flat. “Real per capita expenditures for pork, a measure of the condition of pork demand, grew by 12.3 percent from 2019 through 2021 and are up over eight percent more so far this year,” Meyer wrote.

Consumers hesitate on lamb purchases

Light market lamb prices fell below the five-year average last week. Lamb demand grew during the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders as consumers looked for variety, but they seem more hesitant as price consciousness has become more prevalent.

Lamb demand is not typically influenced by rising prices of other proteins. Last week’s estimated harvest was 25,000 head, 7,000 head less than the previous week and 8,000 head below the same week last year.

Beef exports set records

U.S. beef exports set new volume and value records in May, topping $1 billion for the fourth time this year, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

While pork exports were well below last year’s large totals, shipments were the largest of 2022 in both volume and value. U.S. lamb exports continued to trend higher, led by growth in the Caribbean and Mexico.

May beef export value averaged $505.02 per head, up 17 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous record of $503.68 set in January 2022. May pork export value equated to $65.27 per head, down 23 percent from a year ago but the highest monthly average since July 2021.

May exports of U.S. lamb increased 35 percent from a year ago while export value climbed 40 percent. January through May lamb exports increased 46 percent from a year ago to 8,368 metric tons, while value jumped 68 percent to $12.5 million.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady to $3.00 lower. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $125.00 to $144.00/cwt. High Choice and Prime type cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market sold to $150.00/cwt.

Choice Holstein steers were mixed at $100.00 to $129.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing $130.00 to $135.00/cwt with a few higher. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $72.00 to $100.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were bringing $107.00 to $147.00/cwt.

Cows were steady to $2.00 lower at $57.00 to $82.00/cwt with some selling to the low $90.00s. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $60.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were steady, bringing $50.00 to $165.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $180.00/cwt.

Beef and beef cross calves were bringing up to $350.00/head. Market lambs brought up to $145.00/cwt.