October Beef Exports Continue Surge

US - Beef exports remained on a record-setting pace in October while pork exports put up one of their strongest performances of the year, yet remain behind 2012’s record-high levels, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
calendar icon 10 December 2013
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Top beef export markets Japan and Mexico both increased the volume of their US beef purchases in excess of 40 per cent for the month, while sales to the booming Hong Kong market skyrocketed 148 per cent. Overall, October US beef exports reached 107,471 metric tons valued at $564.5 million, increases of 6 and nearly 14 per cent, respectively.

"The ebbs and flows of export markets require us to make continual adjustments," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "For example, Japan remains the United States’ top value market for pork exports, but relentless competition from other international suppliers is making it tougher for us to maintain our market share."

Mr Seng also noted while the US Congress continues to debate budget cuts that could affect spending on programs like the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program that support US agricultural exports, the European Commission has proposed more than tripling its spending to support EU agricultural and agri-food sector products.

"There is no question that exports create jobs and support a positive balance of trade," said Mr Seng. "The European Commission sees that link and is looking to put significantly more resources into their export initiative, so we can expect to face even heavier competition in the top value markets going forward."

Top beef markets

Increased exports to leading markets Japan and Mexico – along with sharp increases in sales to Hong Kong – continue to drive US beef sales to higher levels. For the year, total US beef exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) stand at 969,186 metric tons (up 2 per cent) valued at nearly $5.1 billion (up 11 per cent), and are expected to easily top 2012’s record value of $5.51 billion.

Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $251.06 in October, up $29 from last year. Exports accounted for 11 per cent of muscle cuts and 13.5 per cent of total beef exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) for the month, up from 10 and 12.6 per cent, respectively, last year.

Top-performing beef export markets in October were:

  • Japan: 18,004 metric tons (up 40 per cent) valued at $106.3 million (up 16 per cent)
  • Mexico: 21,983 metric tons (up 53 per cent) – Mexico’s largest volume of US beef imports since December 2011 – valued at $95.3 million (up 50 per cent)
  • Hong Kong: 15,403 metric tons (up 148 per cent) – a new record volume – valued at $98.1 million (up 184 per cent)
  • South Korea: 9,509 metric tons (up more than 25 per cent) valued at $60.6 million (up close to 75 per cent)
  • Central/South America: 3,560 metric tons (up 61 per cent) valued at $15.5 million (up nearly 54 per cent)

"Hong Kong is clearly 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," said Mr Seng. "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."

Mainland China’s beef imports through the first 10 months of this year have reached 253,196 metric tons valued at nearly $1.1 billion – increases of 562 per cent in volume and 595 per cent in value over last year, according to the Global Trade Atlas. Australia holds better than a 50 per cent market share there in the United States’ absence.

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