Beef Market Update: Exports sizzle while long weekend weather fizzles

The May long weekend is the official kick off to the summer barbecue season, but the wet, cool weather trend doesn’t look like it’s going to let up for much of the country. Will this deter beef consumption? Will African swine fever’s impact on the hog markets boost beef retail sales through competitive pricing?

Not so fast, says Anne Wasko, of the Gateway Livestock Exchange, in this edition of the Beef Market Update.

Cash markets are in a slump both south and north of the border, and there’s plenty of meat out there.

“Bottom line, there’s lots of meat out there,” Wasko says. Canadian supply is up 10 per cent, because of more cattle fed or on feed, which is good news for the industry, but definitely puts pressure on prices.

That’s not to take away from the exceptional export story unfolding for the first quarter of 2019. March export data is out and the numbers are very impressive, Wasko says.

Total exports to all countries were up 26 per cent in March, with a 17 per cent bump to the in U.S., 122 per cent in sales to Japan, and a 35 per cent increase to China/Hong Kong. The strong numbers follow two strong months of exports. It’s good news, but Wasko reminds us that trade can be fickle, especially with increasing trade uncertainty with China and the U.S. announcing a “full access” deal with Japan just ahead of the long weekend. (Just after this was recorded it was announced that Japan had lifted its “under 30 months” age restriction on all cattle imports from all countries, including Canada and the U.S.)

Wasko says the markets are also keeping a close eye on growing conditions on the prairies, as dry conditions are stretching into their third year in some areas. Rain heading into the long weekend was welcome, certainly, but it’s cool to cold, with reports of frost in parts of Manitoba Friday morning.

Listen below for more from Anne Wasko in this episode of the Beef Market Update:

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