Beef Market Update: Canadian beef exports reach pre-BSE levels


If you’ve been following the cattle markets, you’ll know that this week the Alberta fed cattle market lost some ground.

This kind of behaviour is not exceptionally strange for a July cattle market, says Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange in the latest episode of the Beef Market Update. However, the market lost another $3, dropping the live prices down around the $154-$155/cwt mark.

“This is quite a ways off from where we were, even two to three weeks ago, because the market was off last week as well,” says Wasko. “Ontario markets are staying pretty steady so far, mostly at $270 delivered, with a few up to $273.”

Basis levels are something that cattle producers have kept a close eye on in 2021, and for the first half of the year, we have seen pretty strong spreads.

Previously, the basis levels have been favouring the Alberta market; however, as Wasko points out, there have been some significant changes as of late, as both Alberta and the U.S. are sitting at par.

“It’s a big change when you’re talking about dollars per head,” says Wasko.

Looking at trade, Statistics Canada released May 2021 trade data, and beef exports were solid — up 53 per cent from last year.

“May of 2020 was a COVID-19 month, so there was certainly disruption, but even comparing this May to May of 2019, they are still up 19 per cent. Also, if you are keeping track — these are big numbers now — this matches the previous record set in May of 2002, just before BSE. We’re back to those levels again. Yes, it’s taken almost twenty years to do it, but these numbers are solid numbers,” says Wasko.

Of course, that’s looking at one month, notes Wasko, but the year-to-date numbers look positive as well.

“Year-to-date 2021 beef exports for Canada are up 29 per cent in volume, and 25 per cent in value increase. That’s great data there,” she says.

The question, of course is where is all of this beef going? It’s no surprise the U.S. is our largest export market. However, coming in second for exports thus far is Japan, followed by the China and Hong Kong market, says Wasko.

Listen on to hear more on where the cattle markets are with Anne Wasko and guest host Lyndsey Smith:

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