CME: Global Meat Demand and US Export Outlook

by 5m Editor
10 May 2012, at 9:32am

US - USDA revised this week its estimates for global beef production and trade in 2012. The updates for some countries were particularly interesting in light of recent trade talk about global meat demand and US export outlook, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

The USDA estimates are updated twice a year (April and October) and the USDA FAS does a tremendous job in bringing together an incredible amount of detail about global meat production, trade, and domestic use.

Global beef production is currently estimated at some 57 million MT (carcass wt. basis), about 0.2 per cent higher than the previous year but still about 1.5 million MT or 2.5 per cent lower than the record high in 2007. In the last 10 years, global beef output has expanded by 5.2 per cent but that increase has not come from countries that traditionally have been the primary actors in the global beef trade. Beef production in the US (the fourth largest beef exporter in the world) has contracted in the past 10 years, in part due to the impact of BSE (December 2003) which limited export markets, but also higher feed costs that undermined produce profitability.

Production in Australia and New Zealand has been for the most part steady in the past decade and it will likely show only modest growth in the coming years. On the other hand, we have seen tremendous growth in production from emerging/developing countries. It may surprise many that India has now emerged as a top global beef supplier, expected to surpass Brazil as the largest global beef exporter in 2012.

Keep in mind that Indian beef production is not from cattle (which are sacred), rather it is from buffalo bovines (carabeef). Indian beef production has expanded by almost 1.7 million MT in the past decade, much of that growth going into export markets. Indian beef exports for 2012 are forecast at 1.525 million MT, 25 per cent higher than the previous year and an almost three fold increase in the past 10 years.

The data on pork shows the outsize influence that China has in the global pork market. Pork is the meat protein of choice in China and as the Chinese economy has expanded, so has the appetite for pork. Chinese pork production in 2012 is currently forecast at 51.6 million MT. By comparison, US pork production is forecast at 10.6 million MT and EU production is forecast at 22.6 million MT.

Chinese output is expected to recover in 2012 and increase by 2.1 million MT or 4.2 per cent from the previous year. High prices in 2011 have encouraged Chinese producers to expand and the increase in domestic supply will limit imports in 2012. But even as USDA now forecasts Chinese pork imports to be about 100 million MT lower than the previous year, this still represents a significant increase from the levels we saw in 2009 and 2010.

Lower global grain prices should support some expansion in pork output not just in US and China but also in other markets. Indeed, USDA revised up its 2012 production prospects for most large pork producing countries. Current world pork production is forecast at 104.4 million MT, almost 1 million MT larger than the October forecast for 2012 and 2.7 million MT or 2.7 per cent higher than in 2011. By Q4 of 2012 exports accounted for almost 1 in 4 pounds of pork produced in the US and global expansion has significantly impacted US pork prices.