Beef exports have increased year over year every month in 2017. August beef exports were up 14.7 percent over last year supporting the year to date increase of 14.5 percent year over year. August exports were up strongly to Japan (up 39.3 percent) and Hong Kong (up 28.0 percent) though exports to South Korea were down 6.3 percent compared to last August. August exports also increased year over year to Canada (up 18.1 percent) and Mexico (up 8.9 percent). For the first eight months of the year, exports are up to all of the major beef export destinations led by Japan with a 30.6 percent share of beef exports; South Korea with 16.2 percent; Mexico with 14.8 percent; Canada with 11.3 percent and Hong Kong with 10.1 percent. These top five markets accounted for 83 percent of beef exports for the January through August period.
Beef imports increased 7.9 percent in August, the third consecutive monthly year over year increase in beef imports. Total beef imports for the first eight months of the year are down 2.8 percent from one year ago. August beef imports were larger from New Zealand (up 18.6 percent); Australia (up 15.1 percent); Mexico (up 14.0 percent); Canada up (0.5 percent) but down 26.5 percent from Brazil. For the year to date, Canada has the largest share of U.S. beef imports at 23.2 percent followed by New Zealand (21.8 percent); Australia (21.7 percent); Mexico (18.8 percent) and Brazil with 5.0 percent. Uruguay and Nicaragua are close behind Brazil with just over four percent of total imports each. The top five imports sources account for 90.5 percent of total imports and with Uruguay and Nicaragua account for 98.8 percent of beef imports.
Cattle imports in August were essentially unchanged with imports from Canada up fractionally year over year and imports from Mexico down fractionally compared to last August. For the year to date, total cattle imports are up 3.9 percent with imports from Canada down 16.5 percent and imports of Mexican cattle up 21.7 percent. Canadian imports are a mix of feeder and slaughter cattle with feeder cattle imports down 34.0 percent through August and slaughter cattle imports up 9.7 percent. Slaughter cattle imports from Canada for the year to date consist of 68.8 percent slaughter steers and heifers and 31.2 percent slaughter cows and bulls. Total feeder cattle imports from Canada and Mexico are up 9.7 percent for the January through August period.
Through August, feeder cattle imports from Canada consisted of 77.1 percent heifers and 22.9 percent steers with steers down 61.6 percent from last year and heifers only down by 13.6 percent. Year to date feeder heifer imports from Mexico have more than doubled from last year with heifers making up 15.3 percent of feeder cattle imports from Mexico compared to 9.1 percent last year. Steers imported from Mexico are up 13.6 percent year over year through August. Increased heifer imports from Mexico may be a reflection of stronger domestic Mexican demand for steers to support growing feedlot production in Mexico leaving heifers to make up a bigger share of cattle exports. It may also signal slowing heifer retention and herd growth in Mexico as heifer exports compete with domestic breeding demand for heifers. For the first 8 months of the year, feeder heifer imports from Mexico and Canada have increased to 23.5 percent of total feeder cattle imports, up from a share of 20.1 percent one year ago.