Beef Market Update: Key exports down, cows moving south, and working through the backlog of cattle

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

September beef export trade data is in, and, following a good July and August, the numbers are a bit disappointing.

“We’ve been talking about trade a lot because we know both the U.S. and Canada have a pile of beef that we need to get through, and obviously export markets are an important piece of that destination at the end of the day,” says Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange.

September was down four per cent from a year ago, leaving year-to-date beef exports down seven per cent. The value of exports so far are only down two per cent though, so that’s good news, and there’s still a lot of tonnage to move.

Beef exports into two key countries, the U.S. and Japan, were down six per cent and down 24 per cent, respectively.

Live cattle exports in September saw no big changes for steer and heifer fed cattle. Cow exports to the U.S, however, were up 28 per cent, but that’s been the case all year long, says Wasko. As Canadian packers focused on killing young cattle, we expected more cows moving to the U.S. for slaughter, but even then, it’s not necessarily keeping pace and cull prices are down.

“Feeder cattle exports were up a bit in September, but overall for the year, down 41 per cent,” says Wasko.

There’s also the issue of closed restaurants to consider on the demand side, high feed prices for feedlots, and an appreciating Canadian dollar.

Hear Wasko, and RealAg Radio guest host Lyndsey Smith for the full recap:

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