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Impact of imports on total beef supply

Article-Impact of imports on total beef supply

Nevil Speer Exports versus imports
Discussion around imports inherently invokes question about their overall influence on the beef business.

In recent weeks, Industry At A Glance has focused on the impact of international trade on the beef industry. Several columns dealt specifically with the influence of cattle imports, both slaughter and feeder cattle. For more on that discussion, see:

Meanwhile, last week’s discussion focused specifically on beef trade and the respective balance between imports and exports. As a quick recap, total year exports established a new record at nearly $8.2 billion – more than $1billion ahead of 2017. Meanwhile, import values totaled $5.87 billion. 

In summary, exports exceeded import values by more than $2.3 billion – establishing a new annual record. Also important to note here, the quantitative difference becomes even more meaningful considering the qualitative composition of imports versus exports, respectively (high-value exports vs. low-value imports). 

Nevil SpeerExports versus imports


Nevertheless, discussion around imports inherently invokes question about their overall influence on the beef business. This week’s illustration provides some perspective around that particular issue.   

The volume of imports is represented as a percentage to total beef supply, beef supply being a function of carryover holdings in cold storage, domestic production and imports.

The import contribution marked a recent peak in 2015 at 11.37% but has declined in the years since. Last year’s import contribution totaled 9.24%, just under the overall average of 9.3% dating back to 2000. Imports from Canada, Mexico and New Zealand have remained fairly stable over the years – Australia represents the largest swing source in recent years as sources surged in 2014 and 2015.  

Based on this data, what’s your perspective about the historical run of imports to the U.S.? 

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY. Contact him at [email protected]

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