A relatively strong US dollar is impacting on the meat trade with beef imports into the US reported to be 63.7% up in January 2015, compared with January 2014. The increased imports are mainly coming from Australia, New Zealand, and Nicaragua. The USDA is predicting that US beef imports for Q1 2015 will be 31.7% up on Q 2014. Pork imports in January were 32% up on 2014. Beef exports for Q1 are forecast to be down 16.2%, whilst pork exports are expected to be 18.2% down. Despite this there are increased signs of confidence and rebuilding in the US beef sector, with commercial beef cow slaughter is reported to be down by 24% so far this year, indicating that the beef breeding herd is expanding. This is likely to continue, however is dependent on favourable climatic and economic conditions.
US pig meat exports continue to suffer due to the Russian import ban, and Russian pig meat imports are expected to fall sharply in 2015. Russia imported 868,000 MT of pork in 2013, and was the world’s number 2 importer of pig meat after Japan; however imports fell sharply in 2014 to 460,000 MT due to trade sanctions imposed by the Russian government on a number of key exporting countries, including the US and EU states. Domestic production is expected to rise, however will not fully make up the shortfall in supply. This, along with the poor state of the Russian economy, hit by low energy prices and political instability will lead a fall in consumption for both beef and pork in Russia during 2015 (See USDA Russia Livestock Products Semi-Annual).