World beef markets, trade expected to grow in 2017

Consumption among major beef consuming nations expected to expand in 2017.

The latest global meat trade estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service indicated that beef production and consumption among major beef countries is growing in 2016 and is projected to grow even more in 2017.

Aside from the U.S. — the world’s largest beef-producing and consuming country, where both production and consumption are increasing — beef production is expanding in several major beef-producing countries, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel said.

Brazil, which saw decreased beef production in 2015 and 2016, is projected to increase production in 2017. Beef production is also expected to increase in China, India and Argentina, with the European Union holding about steady.  Australia is an exception, with drought-forced liquidation in 2014 and 2015 leading to a projected 19% decrease in beef production in 2016 and continued smaller production in 2017.

In addition to the U.S., Peel said beef consumption among major beef-consuming nations is projected to expand in 2017 in China and Brazil, with a modest year-over-year decrease in the EU. In the remaining top 10 beef consuming nations, beef consumption in 2017 is projected to expand in Argentina, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Turkey. Russia is expected to post another decrease following reduced beef consumption in 2015 and 2016. Beef consumption in Japan, which is currently the number 11 beef-consuming nation, is projected to hold steady in 2017.

Peel also noted that beef exports among major exporting countries are projected to increase year over year in 2017. Sharply lower beef exports in 2016 from Australia and New Zealand are projected to more than offset increased exports from Brazil, India and the U.S., resulting in a slight year-over-year decrease in total exports from 2015 levels. Australia and New Zealand are expected to see continued reductions in beef exports in 2017, with growth continuing in the three other largest beef-exporting countries. Beef exports are also expected to continue growing in other top 10 exporting countries in 2016 and 2017, including Canada, Paraguay, Uruguay (steady in 2017), the EU and Mexico, along with Argentina, which currently is the number 11 beef-exporting country.

Despite sharply lower U.S. beef imports in 2016 and additional reductions projected for 2017, Peel said total beef imports among major importing countries are expected to increase year over year in 2016 and 2017.

The rapid growth in beef imports in China is currently the most dramatic change in global beef markets, Peel noted. China, which was not a global beef market player at all just a few years ago, has risen to become the second-largest beef importing country in 2016, with additional growth projected in 2017. At the current pace of growth, Peel said China could surpass the U.S. as the largest beef-importing country in the next two or three years.

Beef imports in South Korea have also increased sharply in 2015 and 2016, with modest increases projected to continue in 2017. Japan is projected to continue modest year-over-year increases in beef imports in 2017. Beef imports in Russia, which has seen beef imports fall by more than half since 2013, are projected to stabilize in 2016 and 2017 at the lowest level in more than 15 years. Beef imports in most other significant importing countries are projected to be steady to higher in 2017, including in the EU, Hong Kong, Egypt, Canada, Chile and Malaysia.

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