U.S. will again be a net beef importer in ‘24

An animal protein analyst expects the U.S. to be a net beef importer for the second straight year.

CoBank’s Brian Earnest tells Brownfield the record-low U.S. cattle inventory, along with other global factors, are weighing on beef exports.

“Economic issues in China are finally taking their cut at imports of US beef,” he says, “but also Australia is rebounding from some significant impact from drought, and we’re seeing higher volumes of availability of Australian beef.”

Earnest says short domestic supplies paired with strong consumer demand, especially for ground beef, has led to…

“A pretty big uptick in imports of beef this year to accommodate a consumer that’s looking for that value item,” he says.

Earnest says he forecasts retail beef prices to continue to rise.

“I don’t know to the degree that that will push away consumers.”  He says, “We may just see some trading within the category this year.”

Earnest says U.S. beef production declined by 4% year over year, or 280 million pounds, during the first quarter of 2024.

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