Unexpected strength in the US beef market is keeping bull prices and exports up. According to Rabobank exports to the United States, New Zealand’s second-largest beef market, lifted 18% year-on-year in March and 31% compared to February this year despite a slowdown in the US economy. Agricultural analyst at Rabobank Genevieve Steven says usually during tougher economic conditions, consumers “trade down” to less expensive proteins like pork and poultry. Genevieve Steven says beef sales seem to be supported by US consumers continuing their Covid consumption patterns, and the start of the US summer barbecue season. But over the next 18 months local beef prices are likely to be pushed higher in line with anticipated contraction in US beef production and if demand from China dips in the next few months it could shift dynamics. Since 2018, there has been a drop in exports to the US largely due to the significant increase in China’s demand for beef over the period.