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US Beef Exports Continue to Grow

12 December 2013

US - October export data showed beef and veal exports up 5.4 per cent over last year, writes Tim Petry, Livestock Economist at North Dakota State University.

Cumulative exports for 2013 were up four per cent, according to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) and Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) released the latest beef trade data last week. 

Japan has again emerged as the leading destination for U.S. beef. October beef exports to Japan were up over 42 per cent from last year, and year-to-date exports are up almost 47 per cent . In February 2013, Japan again began accepting U.S. beef from animals less than 30 months of age.

Japan was the leading customer prior to discovery of the first case of BSE in the U.S. in December 2003, when Japan banned U.S. beef imports. Trade for only beef from cattle slaughtered at 20 months of age or less resumed in 2005.

A more in depth discussion of beef trade with Japan is available in the March issue of the USDA-ERS Livestock Dairy and Poultry Outlook in a special article titled “Japan Announces New Rule for Imports of U.S. Beef.” It is available here. 

Strong October beef and veal exports to several other countries were also tallied with exports to Mexico up 72 per cent , Hong Kong up 57 per cent and South Korea up 28 per cent .

For 2013 through October, the top volume foreign customers for U.S. beef and veal in order of importance were Japan (up 47 per cent for the year), Canada (up 6.3 per cent ), Mexico (up 5.5 per cent ), Hong Kong (up 67 per cent ), South Korea (down 6.2 per cent ) and Taiwan (up 99 per cent ).

In 2012, Russia was the 6th leading destination for U.S. beef which amounted to over 6 per cent of beef exports. Beef exports to Russia had been gradually increasing the last several years. However, earlier this year Russia announced that it was banning all beef, pork, and turkey from the U.S. unless it could be certified free of ractopamine.

Since the U.S. did not have a ractopamine free certification process, beef exports to Russia stopped. On November 5, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the procedure for a new Quality Systems Verification Program (QSVP) called “Never Fed Beta Agonists.”

This program provides confirmation to customers that require verification of a marketing claim that beef and pork meat is derived from animals that were never fed beta agonists and is free of beta agonist residues.

The Never Fed Beta Agonists marketing claim is available to companies that produce livestock, beef and pork products and submit marketing programs to AMS for verification and monitoring. Russian officials have indicated that they may be willing to lift the ban on U.S. beef in 2014 and will likely institute a quota and tariff program.

The value of U.S. beef and beef products exports for January through October 2013 was $5.081 billion, up 11 per cent over last year. International trade is very important to the U.S. beef industry. In 2012, the value of all U.S. cattle, beef, and byproduct exports was $7.9B. The U.S. imported about $5.6B worth of cattle, beef, and byproducts resulting in a $2.3B trade surplus.

The Markets

The fed cattle market continued the range bound trend in the low $130s that has occurred the last two months. Across the 5-area market, liveweight steers averaged $131.87 per hundredweight down 79 cents for the week.

Dressed weight prices declined 71 cents to average $208.78 for the week. Choice boxed beef prices averaged $202.65 up 61 cents for the week with some last minute holiday buying still occurring.The calf and feeder cattle markets were mixed and affected by regional weather conditions.

Very cold temperatures in the Plains affected both movement of cattle to markets and demand from buyers.

Snow and blizzard conditions in parts of the Northern Plains caused very low receipts at some markets even after being closed the previous week for the Thanksgiving holiday.


Corn prices in Omaha on Thursday were up 12 cents a bushel at $4.25.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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