Beef Exports Up Sharply

While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume (77,027 metric tons or 169.8 million lbs.) and value ($246.9 million) but these totals are down by 25% and 27%, respectively, compared with the first four months of 2009.

While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume (77,027 metric tons or 169.8 million lbs.) and value ($246.9 million) but these totals are down by 25% and 27%, respectively, compared with the first four months of 2009.

Despite dramatic gains in many overseas markets, Canada remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. beef. Beef/beef variety meat exports to Canada are up 13% in volume (45,563 metric tons or 100.5 million lbs.) and 17% in value ($199.4 million) compared with January-April 2009. In fact, April export value to Canada ($59.9 million) pulled within just 4% of Mexico ($62.2 million).

U.S. beef exports to Asia continued to grow at a torrid pace in April. Japan is the leading Asian market in 2010 in both volume (26,740 metric tons or 58.9 million lbs.) and value ($141.8 million). Both represent an increase of 34% over January-April 2009. But South Korea is right on Japan’s heels, with a volume of 26,321 metric tons (58 million lbs.) valued at $112.3 million – increases of 39% and 58%, respectively, over last year.

The ASEAN region also performed very well in April, up by 14% for the year in volume (29,589 metric tons or 65.2 million lbs.) and 16% in value ($97.9 million). Interestingly, this increase was achieved despite fairly flat results in Vietnam – by far the largest ASEAN market. The primary growth drivers were the Philippines and Indonesia, the No. 2 and No. 3 markets in the region.

Taiwan appears to have shaken off any lingering controversy over the recent reintroduction of U.S. bone-in beef, and may be headed for another record performance in 2010. Exports to Taiwan were up 69% in volume (11,533 metric tons or 25.4 million lbs.) and 79% in value ($60 million).

Hong Kong has also achieved rapid growth this year, nearly tripling its imports of U.S. beef in terms of both volume (9,099 metric tons or 20.1 million lbs.) and value ($35.6 million).

Impressive growth numbers aren't limited to Asia, however. Exports to the Middle East continued their strong run, increasing 24% in volume and 45% in value over January-April 2009. Led by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, a growing percentage of U.S. beef exports to the Middle East are muscle cuts. But beef variety meat exports are showing signs of a strong price recovery in the region, as they were up only slightly in volume but up by nearly 25% in value through April.

Russia has also expanded its purchases of U.S. beef to include a much higher percentage of muscle cuts, From January to April, exports to Russia were up 173% in volume (19,525 metric tons or 43 million lbs.) but an even more remarkable 613% in value ($47.5 million) over 2009.

In contrast to the downturn in Mexico, exports are performing very well in other Western Hemisphere markets. Beef/beef variety meat exports to the Dominican Republic were up more than 60% in volume and value, while Jamaica was up more than 30%. Exports to Central/South America were up by 47% in volume and 54% in value, with variety meat exports to Peru and Colombia accounting for much of the growth.
-- USMEF release