ERS Charts of Note
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Although total U.S. pork exports grew by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018, exports to the largest U.S. pork-trading partner, Mexico, decreased over the same period. In contrast to the trend in broiler meat exports, which showed the strongest growth in the second half of 2018, U.S. pork exports to Mexico were much stronger in the first half of the year. After Mexico imposed tariffs on most U.S. pork products in June 2018, monthly pork exports to Mexico fell below 2017 levels for the remainder of 2018. Given that the Mexican tariff rate for most pork products was 20 percent, an even larger year-over-year decline could have been expected. However, average U.S. pork export unit costs fell, compensating for the increased cost to importers from the tariffs. In the first half of 2018, U.S. pork exports to Mexico in 2018 had risen over 2017 levels, possibly because demand from Mexican importers had increased in anticipation of the impending cost increases that tariffs would produce. This chart appears in the May ERS Amber Waves article, “U.S. Exports for Most Major Meat Commodities Grew in 2018.”
Monday, May 6, 2019
Fifteen years ago, U.S. beef was banned in South Korea after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States at the end of 2003. U.S. beef exports gradually reentered the market after the ban was partially lifted in 2006, and then markedly accelerated in the years following implementation of the 2012 United States-South Korea free trade agreement (KORUS), which reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Recently emerging as an important market for U.S. beef exports, South Korea received more than half of the increase in U.S. total beef-export volume from 2017 to 2018, with 35 percent year-over-year growth. Further, South Korea received more than 20 percent of total U.S. beef exports in 2018. Likely drivers of this growth included strong consumer demand; lower tariffs than the next largest competitor, Australia; large exportable supplies of beef in the United States relative to Australia; and a relatively weaker U.S. dollar in the first half of the year. As a result, U.S. beef exports to South Korea exceeded the pre-BSE peak level of 597 million pounds in 2002, reaching 638 million pounds in 2018, and making the United States the largest supplier of beef to South Korea. This chart appears in the May 2019 ERS Amber Waves article, “U.S. Exports for Most Major Meat Commodities Grew in 2018.”
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Thanksgiving meals typically include such iconic dishes as pumpkin pie and stuffing, and turkey is usually the centerpiece. This year and last, wholesale turkey prices have been sharply lower than in years past. Do lower wholesale prices mean lower turkey prices at the grocery store? Not always. While wholesale and retail turkey price movements are historically correlated on a yearly basis, seasonal factors can disrupt this correlation. Commonly in the past, retail turkey prices in the Thanksgiving holiday season were near annual low points, while wholesale prices were near yearly highs. Between 2014 and 2016, the November markup from wholesale to retail prices for turkey was 18 percent, compared with an average 38-percent markup over the entire 2-year period. Beginning in 2017, however, wholesale turkey prices began a sustained decline that was not reflected in retail price movements. The retail markup in November 2017 reached 78 percent, compared with 65 percent for this year, and a higher markup is expected in 2018. The data suggest that the past relationship between wholesale and retail Thanksgiving turkey prices may be fading, as retail prices have become less responsive to downward movements in wholesale prices. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter released in November 2018.
Monday, November 5, 2018
Each August, ERS estimates the previous year’s farm sector cash receipts—the cash income received from agricultural commodity sales. Historical State-level estimates provide baseline information that can be useful in gauging the financial impact of unexpected events that affect the agricultural sector, such as the recent hurricane that struck Georgia and surrounding States. In 2017, cash receipts for all U.S. farm commodities totaled $374 billion. Georgia contributed about 2 percent ($9 billion) of that total, ranking 15th among all States. Broilers (chickens that are raised for meat) accounted for the largest share of cash receipts in Georgia at $4.4 billion (49 percent of Georgia’s cash receipts)—followed by cotton at $878 million (10 percent of Georgia’s receipts. Georgia led the Nation in cash receipts from broilers and ranked second in cotton cash receipts, behind Texas. Georgia also led the country in cash receipts from peanuts and pecans—accounting for 47 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of the U.S. totals for those commodities—although they amounted to a smaller share of the State’s total cash receipts. This chart uses data from the ERS U.S. and State-Level Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product, updated August 2018.
Friday, November 2, 2018
Since Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs against the United States in June, export volumes (June to August) of U.S. fresh and frozen pork products subject to the tariffs have maintained the same levels as last year. Typically accounting for more than 97 percent of monthly U.S. pork shipments to Mexico, these exports consist mainly of fresh and frozen ham and shoulder cuts. The lower prices of 2018 U.S. ham primal cuts—averaging 20 percent lower in June-August 2018 than in June-August 2017—are likely a significant offset to the import tariff. In contrast to stable exports of fresh and frozen pork products, a different category of pork exports, that includes some processed pork products as well as cooked hams and shoulders, is down almost 45 percent in the June-August period. This chart is drawn from data in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter, released in October 2018.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Total U.S. butter imports—driven by high imports of butter sourced from Ireland—reached record levels in July, supplanting a record set in May 2004. Total U.S. butter imports for July were 7.5 million pounds, with 5.8 million pounds (about 77 percent) coming from Ireland. Irish butter contains at least 82 percent butterfat (compared with at least 80 percent for most U.S. butter), is sourced from cows that are mainly grass fed, and is usually sold at a premium. Irish butter’s higher butterfat content is marketed as being superior for baking and as more pure than lower butterfat options. The recent rise in butter imports from Ireland can be partly attributed to the success of this marketing strategy and Irish butter’s popularity with many well known professional bakers and chefs. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter released in September 2018.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Each August, as part of the its Farm Income data product, ERS produces estimates of the prior year’s farm sector cash receipts—the cash income the sector receives from agricultural commodity sales. State-level estimates provide background information about States subject to unexpected changes that affect the agricultural sector, such as the recent hurricane that struck North Carolina and surrounding States. In 2017, cash receipts for all U.S. farm commodities totaled $374 billion. North Carolina contributed about 3 percent ($11 billion) of that total, ranking eighth among all States. Broilers (chickens that are raised for meat) accounted for the largest share of cash receipts in North Carolina at 31 percent ($4 billion), compared to 12 percent nationwide—followed by hogs at 21 percent ($2 billion), compared to 11 percent nationwide. The State ranked third in the nation in cash receipts for both broilers and hogs. North Carolina led the country in cash receipts from tobacco, sweet potatoes, and turkeys—accounting for 50, 47, and 15 percent of the U.S. total for those commodities, respectively—although they contributed a smaller share of the State’s total cash receipts. This chart uses data from the ERS U.S. and State-Level Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product, updated August 2018.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
All major U.S. animal protein sources have experienced growth in exports in the first half of 2018 relative to the same period in 2017. U.S. trade data for the first 6 months of 2018 indicate year-over-year (YOY) growth for U.S. exports of all major meats as well as dairy and eggs. Dairy exports led the way, increasing by nearly 20 percent YOY, likely due to competitive prices. Lamb and mutton exports increased by 16 percent YOY, albeit from a much smaller base than other meats. Strong global demand, particularly from Asian markets, pushed beef and veal exports up 15 percent YOY. First-half 2018 pork exports—more than 6 percent above a year ago—were driven higher mainly by larger shipments to Mexico, South Korea, Central/South America, and the Caribbean. On the poultry side, turkey meat exports grew at levels on par with pork, while broiler meat and egg exports grew by only 2 and 1 percent, respectively. Although U.S. egg exports to certain major markets (such as Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong) (demonstrated double-digit growth in the first half, declines in sales to other markets, including the European Union, confined total growth to 1 percent YOY. This chart appears in the latest ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter, released in August 2018.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of turkey meat. In January 2016, turkey exports fell to their lowest levels since 2010, following the 2015 U.S. outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza that resulted in significant animal losses and the temporary closing or partial closing of key export markets. Since then, exports have crept upward, with key recovery happening with Mexico, the largest destination for U.S. turkey shipments. For most of the last decade, more than half of U.S. turkey exports have gone to Mexico, with the share reaching as high as 74 percent of all shipments in July 2014. As exports have recovered, the share of shipments going to Mexico has generally risen as well—apart from seasonal patterns. As domestic prices continue to stay below historical levels and cold storage stocks remain high, the export market is expected to remain an attractive option for producers. Exports have averaged 11 percent of production over the last 12 months, up from just under 10 percent in the previous 12-month period. Annually, exports are expected to grow further in 2018 to 663 million pounds, a 7-percent increase over 2017. In 2019, turkey meat exports are expected to total 655 million pounds, or a 1-percent decline from the strong export totals in 2018. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter released in July 2018.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Americans continue to appreciate a cold treat every now and then, according to the latest data on U.S. ice cream and frozen yogurt production. In 2017, domestic production of ice cream (regular and lowfat) and frozen yogurt totaled just under 1.3 billion gallons. In the aggregate, production of ice cream and frozen yogurt has been quite stable, but movement has occurred among categories. As consumers have become more conscious of their intake of fats, the ice cream industry has shifted toward increased production of lowfat ice creams at the expense of regular fat content ice creams. Since 2000, production of lowfat ice cream has increased by 23 percent, while regular ice cream production has decreased by 14 percent. Perhaps due to increased availability of non-dairy ice cream options, frozen yogurt has also declined in prevalence. Production of frozen yogurt is down 34 percent since 2000 and nearly 60 percent since the mid-1990s. This chart is drawn from the ERS Dairy Data product, last updated in June 2018.
Friday, June 22, 2018
Regardless of species, livestock and poultry animals are being slaughtered at heavier weights than in the past. Aside from the availability of relatively cheap feed ingredients (corn/soy) since 2014, improved feed efficiency has contributed to faster growth and higher animal weights. The long-term trend marked by sustained growth in dressed (butchered) weights and live weights is due, in large part, to changes in animal genetics through selective breeding and the implementation of modern and improved production systems. As a result, on average, larger animals are being slaughtered in the United States. On a dressed-weight basis, cattle have increased 73 pounds on average since 2000, a gain of 10 percent. At the same time, hogs have increased 18 pounds, or 9 percent. Poultry has also become larger since 2000. On a live-weight basis, turkeys are 5.3 pounds (20.5 percent) larger on average, while broilers are 1.2 pounds (23.9 percent) larger. This chart is adapted from a chart appearing in the June ERS Amber Waves data feature, “Per Capita Red Meat and Poultry Disappearance: Insights into Its Steady Growth.”
Thursday, May 24, 2018
USDA’s newly released commodity forecasts for 2019 indicate expected growth in U.S. production of beef, pork, broilers (young chickens), turkey, eggs, and milk. Generally, production growth in meat and animal products is supported by relatively low feed costs, the long term trend of increasing animal weights for meat, and higher yields per animal for milk and eggs. However, veal production is expected to decrease, while no growth is expected for lamb. In 2019, growth of beef and turkey production is projected to exceed the respective 2014–18 averages of 1.2 percent and 0.4 percent. Growth of pork, broilers, and egg production is expected to be relatively consistent with the respective 2014–18 average growth rates of 3 percent, 2.3 percent, and 1.9 percent. The forecast growth rate for milk production is down compared to the 2014–18 average of 1.7 percent. In 2014–18, veal production contracted sizably, averaging annual decreases of 7.9 percent, but contraction has slowed in 2014–18. Similarly, in 2019, lamb, which saw average annual declines of 1.3 percent in 2014–18, is expected to maintain production levels consistent with 2018. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook released in May 2018.
Friday, March 30, 2018
Consistent with past years, import data for all of 2017 show that, the United States is a relatively small meat and dairy products importer. USDA import forecasts for 2018 show an extension of this tendency. In 2017, U.S. beef imports were 11.3 percent of total domestic disappearance. In 2018, forecasts for U.S. beef imports leave the ratio almost unchanged (10.9 percent). The United States imports mostly lean beef from Australia, mainly for final use as hamburger and in processed and prepared food products. On the pork side, imports accounted for just over 5 percent of disappearance last year. Based on forecasts, that ratio is expected to be somewhat smaller this year—4.6 percent—due largely to increased domestic production. Most imported pork comes from Canada and the European Union (EU). Compared with beef, pork, and dairy products, lamb imports typically account for more than half of domestic disappearance. Most U.S. lamb imports originate from Oceania. In 2017, imports made up about 64 percent of disappearance. This year, the ratio is expected to be roughly the same. For imported dairy products—most of which come from the EU and New Zealand—imports comprised about 3 percent of U.S. disappearance last year and is expected to be similar in 2018. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook Newsletter, released in March 2018.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
The United States imports a significant amount of live cattle from Canada and Mexico for use in beef production. The country is not a major cattle exporter, due largely to its role as the largest global producer of beef. Historically, the United States has exported breeding cattle and small volumes of beef and dairy cattle, primarily to Canada. In 2016, exports of cattle to Canada averaged 3,000 head per month. Beginning in September, however, monthly U.S. cattle exports to Canada jumped to the highest levels in over a decade, driven by a large spread in the price offered for cattle in Canada relative to the United States. Additionally, drought conditions in the U.S. Northern Plains in the second half of 2017 may have encouraged those in the area to sell off calves at a faster rate because of concerns about grass availability for grazing. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter, released in January 2018.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Typical Thanksgiving meals are filled with many iconic foods like pumpkin pie and stuffing, and turkey is usually the centerpiece. This year, wholesale turkey prices have been sharply lower than in years past. Do low wholesale prices indicate lower retail prices? Not always. While wholesale and retail price movements are strongly correlated on a yearly basis, seasonal factors can disrupt this correlation. During the Thanksgiving holiday season, retail turkey prices are commonly near annual low points. The percentage markup from wholesale to retail price also declines to a low point during that period. The average markup between January 2014 and September 2017 was 42 percent. The November average markup over the same period was just 13 percent. The data indicate that competition between retailers for Thanksgiving business may lead to lower costs for consumers even as wholesale prices rise. Because wholesale prices this year have remained low late into the year, retail prices may fall below previous years or the trend of low retail markups in November may be disrupted. This chart appears in the Amber Waves article "Low Wholesale Turkey Prices in 2017 Should Translate to Lower Costs for Consumers This Thanksgiving," released in November 2017.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Each August, as part of the its Farm Income data product, ERS produces estimates of the prior year’s cash receipts—the cash income the farm sector receives from agricultural commodity sales. This data product includes State-level estimates, which can help offer background information about States subject to unexpected changes that affect the agricultural sector, such as the recent hurricane that struck Texas. In 2016, U.S. cash receipts for all commodities totaled $352 billion. Texas contributed about 6 percent ($21 billion) of that total, behind only California and Iowa. Cattle and calves accounted for 40 percent ($8 billion) of cash receipts in Texas, compared to 13 percent nationwide. Only Nebraska had higher cash receipts for cattle and calves in 2016. Texas led the country in cash receipts from cotton at almost $3 billion (13 percent of the State’s receipts), accounting for 46 percent of the U.S. total for cotton. Milk and broilers each accounted for 9 percent of cash receipts in Texas. The State ranked sixth in both milk and broiler cash receipts nationwide. This chart uses data from the ERS U.S. and State-Level Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product, updated August 2017.
Monday, August 28, 2017
The latest available U.S. trade data show that first-half of 2017 animal products exports are higher for all major commodities for 2016. An increase in global demand and a decline in the U.S. dollar likely contributed to favorable conditions for exports. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Price-adjusted Broad Dollar Index, the value of the U.S. dollar fell 5.9 percent since December 2016. All of the products, except for eggs, are building on positive annual growth in 2016 relative to 2015. In the case of eggs, the 2015 U.S. highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak resulted in a sustained egg-laying flock rebuilding process that limited production and trade. With the exception of U.S. beef and veal exports, the largest share of which went to Japan, Mexico accounted for the largest share of U.S. animal product exports. Mexico’s share so far in 2017 ranges from a low of 15 percent of U.S. beef and veal exports to a high of 64 percent of all U.S. turkey exports. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter, released in August 2017.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Whole turkey prices in 2017 fell relative to 2016 and have remained strikingly flat since January. Typically, wholesale turkey prices have a seasonal trend, with prices climbing from their bottom level in the beginning of the year to a peak near Thanksgiving. The average price for a whole frozen hen in June was actually slightly below January’s price. Between 2013 and 2015, June whole turkey prices averaged 8 percent higher than in January. Prices for breast meat are also below 2016 levels, indicating that demand may not be keeping up with current supply levels. Sustained low prices are often a signal to producers to slow the pace of growth, but production in 2017 has remained above 2016 levels through the first half of the year. It is unclear whether the declines in the wholesale market will translate to reduced retail prices leading up to Thanksgiving. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter released in July 2017.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Many Americans spend more of their time outdoors during the summer months, and some of that outdoor time is spent attending barbecues or grilling their meals at home. Beef is a popular grilling option for many, but not all grades of beef are equally suitable. USDA meat inspectors provide grades (Prime, Choice, and Select) for U.S. beef that denote quality and suitability for different cooking methods. Prime and Choice meats are most suitable for grilling because of the larger amount of marbling, or fat, that helps keep the meat juicy and tender when cooked. Consumers pay premium prices for Prime and Choice beef, as opposed to Select, which is less expensive. Because outdoor grilling is popular during the summer months, there typically is an increase in sales for Choice beef. The monthly price spread, or premium, for Choice beef relative to Select beef reached a record high of $30.38 per hundredweight for the week ending June 9th and averaged $28.35 for the full month. It is not uncommon for the Choice/Select spread to increase in late spring and early summer, as the share of cattle designated Choice this time of year typically declines at the same time that demand increases, driving up the price of Choice beef. But this year, supplies of Choice beef were ample, suggesting that it was strong domestic demand for Choice beef that helped to propel the spread to record levels in June, rather than limited supply. The data in this chart are drawn from the Livestock & Meat Domestic Data set updated in June 2017.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Although prices for agricultural commodities frequently vary from year to year, they have generally moved higher in the past decade. In these aggregate measures, by 2014, price indices for crops were up more than 35 percent above their 2006 levels, while those for livestock rose over 75 percent from 2006 to 2014. Prices for both crops and livestock have fallen since 2015 (crop prices began falling earlier in 2013), as U.S. and global markets responded to higher prices by increasing production. While the aggregate prices received for all agricultural production fell 17 percent, livestock and its related products fell by 26 percent since 2014. The fall in prices for livestock coincides with declining input costs for feed commodities like corn and soybean. Additionally, this reflects the beginning of the recovery in the cattle and beef industry that had seen production declines since 2010. Crop prices also declined, but to a lesser extent at 10 percent since 2014. This chart appears in the ERS publication, "Selected charts from Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, 2017," released April 28, 2017.