By Garra - 28/11/2023 in Brazil and World

US reduces beef exports and elevates imports as cattle herd shrinks

The United States is importing record amounts of beef this year and exporting less after ranchers slashed the nation’s cattle herd to its lowest level in decades.

The decline in cattle numbers, after years of drought fried pasture lands used for grazing, led to soaring US beef prices. Higher prices incentivize companies to import cheaper beef and discourage US beef purchases by buyers like China, Japan and Egypt.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects the US to drop to the ranking of world’s fourth-largest beef and veal exporter this year, down from second in 2022, behind only Brazil.

US beef exports are projected to sink 14% this year from 2022 to 1.4 million tons, the lowest since COVID-19 roiled international trading in 2020. 

In 2024, when USDA expects US production to decline further due to tight cattle supplies, exports are forecast to hit an eight-year low of 1.27 million tons.

In this scenario of rising prices in the domestic market, meatpackers can use imports to help manage through low margins and high-priced US cattle. They often import lean beef from countries such as Australia and New Zealand to blend with fattier U.S. supplies to make hamburgers.

The USDA recently raised its forecasts for beef imports in 2023 and 2024 in a monthly report. The US embassy in Paraguay said the United States next month will reopen its doors to Paraguayan beef after a quarter of a century.

Total US imports from January through September were up about 6% from a year earlier, with Australian shipments climbing by 49%, according to government data.

Contact our team

Place your order, ask your questions or send suggestions to our team.