Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the US, revealed a dramatically lower operating profit from its beef division in the first quarter 2023 results at $129m (€120.5m) or 2.75% compared with the massive $956m (€893m) or 19.1% in the same period last year. They also reported a 5.6% fall in beef sales to $4.7bn (€4.4bn) for the first quarter.

Chief finance officer John R Tyson told the company’s earnings call that the average selling price was down 8.5% because of lower domestic demand for beef. He also highlighted that the company paid $530m (€495.3m) more for cattle, as reduced US cattle supply has meant factories have had to pay higher farm gate prices.

The company is positive about the long-term outlook for beef, referring particularly to growing demand from the Asian market, where Japan and South Korea have been long-term major markets for US beef exports. They were joined by China, which has shown spectacular growth in 2022 for US beef, with volumes increasing by 20% in volume, 263,431t between January and November compared with the previous year.

Overall, Tyson operating profit for the first quarter was down from $1.455bn (€1.35bn) last year to $467m (€436m), with the drop largely accounted for by the fall in performance of the beef division from its spectacular return the previous year.

Its prepared foods division contributed $258m (€241m) of this, while poultry added $69m (€64.5m), down from $140m (€131m) in the same period last year.