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CME: Beef To Japan Up as Market Reacts to Slaughter Age Law

09 July 2013

US - Beef shipments to Japan have been confirmed at almost 70 per cent higher than for May 2012, according to Steve Meyer and Len Steiner who attribute export lift to regulatory changes following the Japanese government's acceptance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk falling in the US.

Despite a number of challenges, US exports of red met and poultry were for the most part higher in May. Even pork exports, which declined sharply in the first four months of the year, were only modestly below year ago levels and clearly on an uptrend compared to 2012. Below are some of the beef highlights:

While there was an expectation earlier in the year that a change in the terms of trade with Japan (age of cattle allowed) would result in increased shipments there, the recent surge in exports has been quite impressive. US beef exports to Japan in May were 24,692 MT, 69 per cent higher than the same period a year ago. Japan is now firmly, once again, the top market for US beef.


In May, Japan accounted for about 34 per cent of total US beef exports. May exports to Japan were about the same as the monthly average in 2003, the last year prior to the discovery of BSE. In that year, monthly export volume did not peak until November. While exports to Japan have recovered to pre-BSE levels, exports to South Korea, which also used to be a major market for US beef, remain more limited.

In May, US beef packers and exporters shipped 6,571 MT of beef to S. Korea, 33 per cent less than a year ago and only half of what was going to that market in 2003. Exports to other markets have been mixed. By far the biggest loss has been the Russian market. Exports to that market have dwindled to almost zero compared to 6,849 MT that was shipped in May 2012.

Exports to Vietnam also have almost ground to a halt, with May exports at just 272 MT, 88 per cent lower than a year ago. In the first five months of the year, US beef exports to Vietnam have been just 2,854 MT, compared to 18,915 MT exported during the same time last year. But the reduction in exports to Vietnam has been offset by larger exports to Hong Kong.

During Jan - May total beef exports to Hong Kong were 32,249 MT, some 14,215 MT +79 per cent ) higher than a year ago. Exports to Taiwan have also recovered as authorities there changed the rules on the level of ractopamine allowed in beef last September. Total US exports of fresh/frozen and cooked beef and veal in May were 71,640 MT, 4.3 per cent higher than a year ago.

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