U.S. beef exports continue at record pace

Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

U.S. beef exports in October kept exports at a record-breaking pace. Beef exports were up 14 percent on a value basis over October 2012 and up 11 percent in value year to date through October.

October exports of U.S. beef and beef varietal meats, up 6 percent by volume and nearly 14 percent by value, kept those exports on a record-setting pace, according to USDA data compiled by U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Year-to-date exports of beef muscle cuts and variety meats through October total 969,186 metric tons, up 2 percent from the same period in 2012, at a value of nearly $5.1 billion, an increase of 11 percent.

USMEF expects beef exports for all of 2013 to easily top 2012’s record value of $5.51 billion.

October’s exports were driven by big increases of beef to Japan and Mexico – up 40 percent and 53 percent, respectively, in volume – and Hong Kong, up a whopping 148 percent.

Hong Kong is emerging as a major beef market, and USMEF’s initiatives there cover retail, food service and trade sectors in this highly competitive and progressive market, Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, stated in a press release.

“We are the second-largest supplier to Hong Kong, trailing only Brazil, but we are continuing to miss out on even larger opportunities in mainland China, where we have not had access since 2003,” he said.

That access was cut off after the first known incident of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad-cow disease) in the U.S. was found in December 2003 in a Holstein cow in Washington state.

Mainland China’s beef imports in the first 10 months of 2013 have reached 253,196 metric tons worth nearly $1.1 billion, a 562 percent increase in volume and a 595 percent increase in value over last year. In the U.S.’ absence, Australia holds better than a 50 percent share in that market, according to USMEF.

Export increases in October were due to both volume and value increases. U.S. export value per head of fed cattle slaughter averaged $251.06 in October, up $29 from October 2012, USMEF reported.

Top value increases for beef muscle and variety meats were seen in Japan, up 16 percent at $106.3 million; Hong Kong, up 184 percent at $98.1 million; Mexico, up 50 percent at $95.3 million; South Korea, up nearly 75 percent at $60.6 million; and Central/South America, up nearly 54 percent at $15.5 million.

U.S. beef exports increased to nearly all major foreign markets in October but were down about 5,400 metric tons and about $27 million in Canada from October 2012.

Year to date through October, total U.S. beef exports are up in major markets, increasing 33 percent in Japan to $1.2 billion; 6 percent in Canada to $1 billion; 4 percent in New Mexico to $737 million; 143 percent in Hong Kong to $629 million; and 4 percent in South Korea to $479 million.

U.S. beef imports in October were up 29.8 percent from October 2012, with large increases from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil, according to number crunchers at University of Missouri.

Imports of live cattle in October were down 17.6 percent form October 2012, with 37.5 percent fewer cattle form Canada and 7.8 percent more cattle from Mexico. Year to date, beef imports are up 0.5 percent and cattle imports are down 16.7 percent.



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