U.S. beef exports through May 2014 are up 6 percent from a year earlier. Exports have strengthened to Hong Kong and Mexico, offsetting weaker shipments to Canada, Japan, and Taiwan (see table). Although exports to Japan had been running above year-earlier levels through April, they weakened in May. Imported beef stocks in Japan are well above year-earlier levels and consumption is stable. Exports to Mexico have risen this year, with shipments during May 48 percent higher than the previous May. Second-quarter exports were raised by 10 million pounds due to stronger demand from Hong Kong and Mexico.
The forecast for U.S. beef exports in 2014 is 2.518 billion pounds, almost 3 percent lower than 2013. Despite stronger shipments during the first 5 months of the year, exports are expected to fall during the remaining months. Production is forecast to fall nearly 5 percent in 2014 and then 1 percent in 2015 due to reduced cattle inventories and higher heifer retention for herd rebuilding. Prices, which have risen as a result of lower supply, are likely to dampen export demand over the forecast period. The forecast for exports during 2015 is 2.425 billion pounds, 4 percent lower than 2014.
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