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Beef Exports Moderate in April; Remain Well Above Year-ago Levels

07 June 2017

US - In April, US red meat exports slowed moderately from the red-hot pace established in March but were still significantly higher year-over-year, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Beef exports reached 99,786 metric tons (mt) in April, up 13 per cent from a year ago, valued at $550.4 million, up 14 per cent. For January through April, beef exports were up 14 per cent in volume (392,001 mt) and 18 per cent in value ($2.16 billion) compared to the same period last year.

April exports accounted for 13.6 per cent of total US beef production and 10.6 per cent for muscle cuts only – up from 13 per cent and 9.9 per cent, respectively, last year. Through April, exports accounted for 12.7 per cent of total beef production (up slightly from last year) and 10 per cent for muscle cuts (up from 9.5 per cent). April export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $283.52 – up 12 per cent from a year ago and the highest of 2017. Through April, per-head export value averaged $271.57, up 11 per cent.

“While April was a very solid month for U.S. red meat exports, we remain in an extremely competitive situation across the world and must stay aggressive with our marketing efforts,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.

“It is especially gratifying to see our per-head return growing in 2017, even as slaughter numbers are on the rise. But this is also not lost on our competitors, who will quickly fill the void if we do not defend our market share. This is why the continued investment of checkoff dollars and USDA funding in international market development is so critically important.”

Asian markets continue to fuel beef export growth

Leading market Japan continued to shine for US beef in April, with exports up 15 per cent in volume (23,540 mt) and 17 per cent in value ($143.3 million). Through April, exports to Japan exceeded last year’s pace by more than one-third in both volume (97,951 mt, up 34 per cent) and value ($570.6 million, up 35 per cent). Growth to Japan has been driven by the surging volume of chilled US beef, with the US capturing 52 per cent of Japan’s chilled imports, up from 39 per cent market share during the first four months of 2016. US chilled exports through April increased by 48 per cent to 45,295 mt, valued at $320 million (up 43 per cent), indicating widespread acceptance and a growing range of US cuts available in both the retail and foodservice sectors.

Beef exports to South Korea cooled to some degree in April but remained above last year’s strong pace at 11,837 mt (up 8 per cent) valued at $78.5 million (up 17 per cent). For January through April, exports to Korea were up 19 per cent in volume (54,388 mt) and 27 per cent in value ($346 million). Similar to Japan, the driver of growth to Korea is in chilled US beef, with exports through April totaling 12,003 mt (up 84 per cent) valued at $106 million (up 86 per cent). Korean quarantine clearance data show this strong growth continued through May, with the US share of Korea’s chilled beef imports climbing to 53 per cent – up from 38 per cent in the same period last year.

The recent rebound continued for beef exports to Hong Kong, where a strong April performance pushed year-to-date exports ahead of last year’s pace. April exports were up 73 per cent in volume (11,232 mt) and 67 per cent in value ($66.6 million). Through April, exports to Hong Kong totaled 37,392 mt (up 2 per cent) valued at $233.9 million (up 10 per cent).

Driven by excellent results in the Philippines and Viet Nam, April exports to the ASEAN region more than doubled from a year ago in volume (3,783 mt, up 105 per cent) and nearly doubled in value ($18.1 million, up 95 per cent). April exports to the Philippines (1,522 mt) were the largest in two years and the volume shipped to Viet Nam (1,035 mt) was the largest since 2012. For January through April, exports to the ASEAN region increased 62 per cent from a year ago in volume (10,975 mt) and 48 per cent in value ($59.9 million).

Beef exports to Taiwan remained on a very solid pace, with April volume up 15 per cent to 3,753 mt and value up 30 per cent to $32.9 million. Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 13,499 mt (up 24 per cent) valued at $118.5 million (up 29 per cent). This included chilled beef exports of 5,320 mt valued at 61.6 million.

Mexico was the only major market in which April beef exports dipped below last year’s pace, totaling 17,525 mt (down 15 per cent) valued at $69.2 million (down 23 per cent). Through April, exports to Mexico were still up 7 per cent from a year ago in volume (74,582 mt) but were 4 per cent lower in value ($296 million).

TheCattleSite News Desk

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