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Asian Demand Influencing World Meat Markets

21 April 2015

US - USDA recently issued its biannual review of global livestock and poultry markets, providing historical supply and trade information and also offering an estimate of the supply/demand outlook for 2015, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

The report is published in April and October and can be found on the web at the following:

Over the years, global trade in livestock and poultry has become a significant factor, in part because of the surge in demand from emerging markets but also due to the emergence of large global producers in Asia and South America, challenging traditional exporting countries in North America, EU and Oceania.

Shifts in global meat trade have significant implications for prices in the US domestic market and thus deserve attention.

The data set from USDA covers all large players and USDA offers three updated forecasts for a given year, becoming an important resource for market participants.

Beef Trade

Some may not realise that the US is the largest world beef importer in the world. Most of the beef coming here is lean manufacturing beef that goes into hamburger production, and a strong US dollar and record high lean beef values have made the US the most valuable grinding beef market in the world.

As a result, most beef suppliers to the US have ramped up shipments. US beef imports for 2015 currently are projected at 1.320 million MT (carcass wt.), revised by 95 thousand MT compared to the October forecast but still slightly lower than in 2014.

However, note that US beef imports are 387,000 MT (+41%) higher than in 2011.

China has emerged in recent years as a global beef buyer and the latest USDA data confirmed that position.

Combined beef imports of China Mainland and Hong Kong in 2015 are projected at 1.250 million MT, revised lower from the 1.265 MMT projected in October but still about 18 per cent higher than in 2014. It is truly impressive than in 2011, combined beef imports from China/Hong Kong were a mere 181,000 MT.

The growth in Chinese beef demand has certainly transformed beef world trade. China has been able to fill its growing needs through both direct purchases from Australia and Uruguay as well as indirect flows from Hong Kong, which in turn relies on USA and Brazil for its beef.

But if China has been the major market mover on the import side, India has become by far the largest beef exporter in the world. Keep in mind that almost all Indian beef exported comes from water buffaloes, otherwise called carabeef.

Its products are shipped across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Some product likely finds its way into China through grey channel trade but because of its FMD status it does not compete directly with the US.

As with China, India beef supply bears watching as it has an outsize influence on global beef trade.

Brazil exports in 2015 are currently forecast to be 2 million MT, revised down by 235 million MT compared to the October forecast but still 5 per cent higher than a year ago and 50 per cent higher than in 2011.

World beef trade has been shifting, with more product available in South America and India and increased demand in North America and Asia.

Pork Trade

One of the more interesting things to note in the latest USDA report is the decline in pork imports from smaller markets.

While the top world pork buyers have increased their purchases, imports from smaller markets are projected to be down 18 per cent in 2015 vs. 2014.

The biggest shift has been in Russian pork imports. Russia used to be a major world pork buyer but in 2015 its pork imports are estimated at just 200 thousand MT (Oct estimate for 2015 was for 375kMT).

If this import volume is correct, it represents a 61 per cent decline from 2014 levels and 80 per cent reduction from 2011, when Russia was the second largest pork buyer in the world.

The net reduction in Russian demand has dramatically impacted world pork markets, forcing large exporters like US and EU to compete aggressively for new business.


Daily Livestock Report - Copyright © 2008 CME. All rights reserved.

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