U.S. beef exports built on the previous year’s gains in January, with volume 9% more (105,486 metric tons) and value 21% higher ($624.4 million), according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef export value in January averaged $293.06 per head of fed slaughter, up 14% year over year.
“January export results were solid overall and were especially strong for muscle cuts,” says USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Despite the decline in variety meat volume, export value continued to increase. This underscores the important contribution variety meats deliver for producers and for everyone in the U.S. supply chain.”
Among January beef export highlights, demand continued to gain momentum in Asian markets.
For instance, exports to Japan were 7% more than the previous year in terms of volume and 19% more in value ($148.6 million). That included 30% more chilled beef volume, according to USMEF, while frozen beef exports declined 13%. Frozen U.S. beef entering Japan is subject to a 50% safeguard tariff, which is scheduled to revert back to 38.5% April 1, the beginning of the new Japanese fiscal year.
Similarly, exports to South Korea, which reached a record $1.2 billion in 2017, increased 13% from a year earlier for volume and 34% for value ($122.3 million).
According to USEMF, via the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the duty on U.S. beef was reduced to 21.3% Jan. 1, about 5 percentage points lower than Australia’s rate for this year and down significantly from the pre-KORUS rate of 40%.
Incidentally, U.S. beef exports to China, which resumed in June after a 13-year absence, hit a new monthly high of 819 metric tons in January, valued at $7.5 million.