U.S. beef trade continued the impressive performance of recent months in the latest monthly trade data for August. Total monthly U.S. beef exports were up 9.0 percent with a year to date total up 14.2 percent year over year. For the year to date, Japan has a 28.8 percent share of U.S. beef exports followed by South Korea at 20.6 percent. Number three market Mexico has a year to date share of 14.1 percent; followed by Canada at 9.7 percent and Hong Kong at 8.9 percent. Taiwan accounts for 5.7 percent of total beef exports. Unsurprisingly, fledgling U.S. beef exports to China have faltered with the trade war. U.S. beef exports to China in August were down from the prior month and represented 0.47 percent of August U.S. beef exports. Monthly beef exports to China have decreased 47.5 percent since the pre-tariff May peak.
Total U.S beef imports were down 3.4 percent year over year in August and are unchanged for the year to date in 2018. Canada represents the largest share of U.S. beef imports at 24.9 percent for the first eight months of the year followed by New Zealand with a 23.3 percent share; Australia with a 21.4 percent share; and Mexico at 16.2 percent of total U.S. beef imports for the year to date.
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service released the bi-annual Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report last week with 2019 forecasts for beef production, consumption and trade among major global participants in those markets. Overall, global beef production is forecast to increase slightly in 2019, while beef exports are essentially unchanged. Beef imports among major importing countries are forecast to increase three to four percent in 2019. The top five beef producing countries are the U.S.; Brazil; European Union; China and India. Major beef exporting countries include Brazil at number one; followed by India; Australia; U.S.; and New Zealand. The U.S. remains the top beef importing country; followed by China; Japan; Hong Kong; and South Korea.
Brazil beef exports are projected to increase nearly five percent year over year in 2019; putting Brazil solidly back on top as the leading global beef exporting country. Meanwhile, India, which exceeded Brazil as the largest beef exporter in 2014-2016, declined in 2018 year over year and is projected to decline again in 2019. Australia, which has struggled to recover from earlier drought, is in drought once again and is forecast to see year over year declines in beef exports in 2019. U.S. beef exports are forecast to show modest growth year over year in 2019.
U.S. beef imports have changed little since 2016 though USDA forecasts show a slight increase in U.S. beef imports in 2019. Other analysts forecast little change or even a slight decline in U.S. beef imports in 2019. Number two beef importer China continues to increase year over year and is closing the gap with the U.S. China could be the largest beef importing country in 2020 or even in 2019 if U.S. beef imports decline and China reaches or exceeds current forecasts. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea are all projected to increase beef imports in 2019.