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Beef Export Value Remains Strong

17 April 2012

US - Beef exports trended slightly lower in volume but posted excellent results in terms of value, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

February beef export volume (87,131 mt) was 3 per cent lower than a year ago but export value remained exceptionally strong, increasing 10 per cent to $409 million. Through the first two months of the year, beef exports totaled 176,585 mt (-2 per cent) valued at $815 million (+12 per cent).

In the beef complex, export volume may be struggling somewhat due to price, but we are having great success directing beef cuts to the markets that value them most. This is keeping beef export value very strong – well ahead of the record pace established last year," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

February beef exports equated to 12 per cent of production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat and nine per cent for muscle cuts only. This compares to 12.9 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, in February 2011. Export value equated to $208.05 per head of fed slaughter, up 14 per cent from last year’s $182.12.

Beef exports to Russia are expected to benefit from a higher muscle cut tariff rate quota (TRQ) in 2012, as the TRQ was increased from 41,700 mt in 2011 to 60,000 mt this year. January-February exports to Russia were up 58 per cent in volume (9,297 mt) and tripled in value to $38.2 million. The pace was even hotter when including only muscle cuts, which increased 131 per cent in volume (5,746 mt) and 238 per cent in value ($29.9 million).

Egypt led strong results for US beef in the Middle East, with exports to the region increasing 13 per cent in volume (23,507 mt) and 19 per cent in value ($53.3 million). Volumes were lower for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but both destinations still achieved substantial increases in value.

Led by strong results in Chile, Peru and Guatemala, exports to the Central and South America region increased 63 per cent in volume (5,651 mt) and 91 per cent in value ($21.8 million).

“Export growth in these markets is reflective of a very successful effort to expand the global footprint of US beef,” Mr Seng said. “At one time, these markets were only a small factor in our global results, and buyers were exclusively interested in variety meat. But the US industry has made great strides in marketing beef muscle cuts, many of which are underutilized domestically.”

Other beef export highlights for the first two months of 2012 include:

  • Mexico was the leading destination in terms of both volume (38,070 mt) and value ($170.6 million). This represents a decrease in volume of six per cent, but a 13 per cent increase in value.
  • Exports to Canada, which was the only $1 billion market for US beef in 2011, slipped three per cent in volume (24,072 mt) but increased 11 per cent in value ($136.9 million).
  • Exports to Japan, which are still limited to beef from cattle 20 months of age or younger, were down five per cent in volume (19,344 mt) but increased 16 per cent in value ($123.6 million).

Having set a blistering pace in early 2011, beef exports through February to Korea were down 19 per cent in volume (22,850 mt) and 15 per cent in value ($102 million). Conversely, exports to Taiwan were very slow in the early months of 2011 because of an unsteady regulatory environment.

Taiwan’s results for this year show an increase of 26 per cent in volume (4,938 mt) and 30 percent in value ($30.7 million), but market conditions remain very fragile and March results will likely be lower.

Exports to Indonesia have been dramatically reduced due to smaller import quotas, which contributed to a decline in exports to the ASEAN region of 15 per cent in volume (9,938 mt) and five per cent in value ($39.2 million).

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