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US beef exports dependant on China

26 November 2021

Continued pace will depend on China's appetite for US beef

According to a recent report by market analyst Gro Intelligence, US beef exports could continue to ride the current wave into 2022, but it will largely depend on China and its desire for US beef. 

The report shows that US beef exports were up 20% to 848,000 tonnes through September compared to last year, and 10% above the previous record from 2018.

Increased exports are due, in large part, to China, which has increased purchases sevenfold recently. Total sales to China this year are up 9% from last year, representing 310,000 tonnes. 

China plays an important role in global trade flows, and while its demand for protein is welcome, it has repercussions for US consumers and restaurants, as well as beef processors’ profit margins, said Gro Intelligence.

"A reduction in China’s beef import demand, or a shift in beef origin countries, could further pressure US beef prices," said the report.

Sales to traditional US beef buyers, including South Korea, Hong Kong, and Mexico, have also increased.

As Gro Intelligence predicted earlier, US beef prices, while still elevated, are already some 20% below a recent peak in August. US ranchers expanded their herds and moved cattle to feedlots faster this year, as drought destroyed pastureland in several states. 

China relies on several countries for beef, but has been known to shift suppliers. While some analysts expect China's demand for protein to increase, Gro Intelligence expects the country to reduce other meat imports, pointing to hog herd recovery. Instead, they believe that China’s pork imports will drop sharply next year to pre-ASF import levels, contrary to the USDA’s forecast for higher pork imports. 



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