THE US has defied expectations and increased beef exports despite a stronger US dollar and higher tariffs in Japan.
As a major competitor for Australia’s beef exports into growing Asian markets, US beef processors not only increased their traditional ground beef (hamburger patties for US burger chains), but also their higher quality cuts sales.
Japan increased tariffs in US beef from 38.5 to 50 per cent this year, while Australia enjoyed reduced tariffs, but the US still exported 251,653 tonnes of beef to Japan in the first 10 months of 2017, up 13 per cent.
China ended a 14 year ban on US beef in June and US suppliers, mainly of high quality cuts, increased sales from six tonnes a week to 338 tonnes a week by October — and still increasing.
US suppliers are, like Australia, targeting high-value beef cuts to China, such as rib-on-the-bone and fillets.
At the same time beef prices are increasing with slightly increasing consumption in the US market to just over 55 pounds a week per person.
And cattle prices are rising with reduced beef numbers, affected by drought in their grassland areas.
But lower grain prices are allowing the mainly grain-fed cattle producers to increase profitability.