US Beef Exports Showing Positive Signs, Despite Lower April Volumes

US - April exports of US beef were below the volumes recorded a year ago but there are positive developments in play, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff.
calendar icon 15 June 2016
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Through the first four months of 2016, beef exports were steady with last year’s pace in volume, but fell 13 per cent in value.

Beef exports totalled 194.4 million pounds in April 2016, down 4 per cent from a year ago, while export value fell 13 per cent to $481 million. Through the first four months of the year, beef exports were 756.6 million pounds, valued at $1.84 billion.

April exports accounted for 13 per cent of total beef production and 10 per cent for muscle cuts only, each down about 1 percentage point from last year. For January-April, these ratios were down slightly from a year ago, at 12.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent.

Export value averaged $252.42 per head of fed slaughter in April – down 15 per cent from a year ago but the highest of 2016. January-April export value averaged $245.56 per head, down 16 per cent.

“Although volumes were lower year-over-year, we did see encouraging signs in the April export results,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

“For US beef, improvement in Mexico and other Western Hemisphere markets was a very positive development. USMEF has worked closely with the retail and foodservice sectors to promote under-utilised cuts and overcome our price challenges in these markets, and those efforts are definitely paying dividends.”

Beef exports rebound to Mexico, Central/South America

After a difficult first quarter, Mexico was the leading volume destination for US beef in April, at 45.3 million pounds – up 19 per cent from a year ago – while value increased 11 per cent to $89.5 million. For January through April, exports to Mexico were still down 6 per cent in volume (153.1 million pounds) and 16 per cent in value ($308.9 million).

Led by larger volumes to Chile, Colombia, Panama and Honduras, April beef exports to Central/South America increased 19 per cent in volume (6.7 million pounds) and 33 per cent in value ($14.4 million). This pushed January-April exports to the region ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (25.2 million pounds, +3 per cent) and value ($54.6 million, +5 per cent).

April beef exports to most Asian markets slowed year-over-year, although this was due in part to the large April 2015 shipments that followed the West Coast port labour impasse. Overall, US beef continues to gain competitiveness against Australian product in Asia.

In Japan, April export volume fell below last year’s level for the first time this year, but exports to the country were the largest in eight months at 45.2 million pounds (-9 per cent). Export value was also down 9 per cent to $122.2 million, but this was also the largest total in eight months.

Through April, beef exports to Japan were up 3 per cent from a year ago in volume (161.6 million pounds) but down 8 per cent in value ($422.7 million). US exports of chilled beef to Japan have rebounded strongly this year to 67.5 million pounds, up 37 per cent from a year ago and 4 per cent above the same period in 2014.

Beef exports to Korea were 2 per cent lower in volume than a year ago (24.1 million pounds) and fell 8 per cent in value ($67.2 million). Driven by a 42 per cent increase in chilled beef (14.4 million pounds), January-April exports to Korea remained 17 per cent higher in volume (100.5 million pounds), though value fell 2 per cent below last year’s pace, at $272.2 million.

Exports to Taiwan increased 27 per cent in volume (7.2 million pounds) and 6 per cent in value ($25.3 million) in April, pushing January-April totals up 22 per cent (to 24 million pounds) and 4 per cent (to $91.7 million), respectively.

Hong Kong was the one key Asian market in which April beef exports fell sharply in both volume (14.3 million pounds, -39 per cent) and value ($39.9 million, -48 per cent). These results pushed January-April exports lower by 5 per cent (to 80.6 million pounds) and 26 per cent ($213.6 million), respectively.

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