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May Beef Exports Shatter Value Record

10 July 2018

US - US beef exports set a new value record in May while also increasing significantly year-over-year in volume, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Beef export volume was 117,871 metric tons (mt) in May, the sixth-largest on record, valued at a remarkable $722.1 million, which surpassed the previous monthly high (March 2018) by a healthy 4 per cent and was 24 per cent higher than a year ago. Through the first five months of 2018, beef exports were up 10 per cent in volume to 547,157 mt while export value was $3.32 billion, 21 per cent above last year’s record pace.

Exports accounted for 13.6 per cent of total beef production in May, up from 13 per cent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.1 per cent, up from 10 per cent last year. For January through May, exports accounted for 13.5 per cent of total beef production and 10.9 per cent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, last year.

Beef export value averaged $313.39 per head of fed slaughter in May, up 18 per cent from a year ago. The January-May average was $317.69 per head, also up 18 per cent.

Japan, Korea lead the way as global demand for US beef continues to climb

Japan and South Korea continue to be the pacesetters for US beef export growth. In May, export volume to Japan totaled 30,117 mt (up 19 per cent from a year ago) valued at $196.8 million (up 22 per cent and the highest since August 2017). Through May, exports to Japan were up 4 per cent from a year ago in volume at 128,207 mt while value increased 13 per cent to $822.9 million. This included a 6 per cent increase in chilled beef volume to 61,178 mt, valued at $488 million (up 18 per cent).

May exports to Korea were up 46 per cent from a year ago in volume (20,781 mt) and jumped 64 per cent in value to a record $146.2 million. For January through May, exports to Korea climbed 34 per cent to 91,875 mt, valued at $647.3 million – 49 per cent above last year’s record pace. Chilled beef exports to Korea totaled 20,365 mt (up 30 per cent) valued at $196 million (up 41 per cent).

"Despite the intense competition US beef faces in Japan and Korea, these markets continue to display a terrific appetite for a growing range of cuts," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Beef items that are traditionally popular in Asia continue to perform and other items more suitable for thick-cut steaks and barbecue concepts are gaining more traction, resulting in exceptional growth opportunities. But the enthusiasm for US beef extends well beyond these two leading markets, and that’s how exports have reached this record-breaking pace."

For January through May, other highlights for US beef include:

  • In Mexico, exports were up 4 per cent in volume (98,900 mt) and 13 per cent higher in value ($427.9 million). Mexico is a critical market for US rounds, shoulder clods and other muscle cuts which are typically undervalued in the US market. It is also the leading destination for US beef variety meat exports, which increased 15 per cent from a year ago in value ($98.9 million) despite a 2 per cent decline in volume (43,479 mt).

  • Exports to China/Hong Kong increased 20 per cent in volume (57,186 mt) and 47 per cent in value to $442.2 million. May exports to China were the largest (834 mt) since the market opened in June of last year, pushing the January-May total to 3,133 mt valued at $28.7 million. However, effective 6 July, China’s import duty rate on US beef increased from 12 per cent to 37 per cent. The higher tariff will make it difficult for end-users to profitably utilize US beef, especially with US beef already priced at a premium compared to imports from other suppliers and with Australian beef subject to a duty of just 7.2 per cent through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

  • Coming off a record performance in 2017, beef exports to Taiwan continue to gain momentum. Exports were up 31 per cent from a year ago in volume (22,127 mt) and 43 per cent higher in value ($209.9 million). Chilled exports increased 39 per cent in volume (9,272 mt) and 52 per cent in value ($116 million), as US beef captured 74 per cent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.

  • More reliable access to Indonesia has helped bolster beef exports to this promising market, with volume increasing 52 per cent from a year ago to 6,247 mt and value nearly doubling to $28.7 million. Due in part to the United States successfully challenging Indonesia’s import restrictions at the World Trade Organization, US beef now faces fewer obstacles and a more consistent regulatory environment. Indonesia’s strong performance and solid growth in the Philippines helped push exports to the ASEAN region 17 per cent higher in volume (18,472 mt) and 28 per cent higher in value ($102.4 million).

  • Led by strong growth in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama, exports to Central America jumped 21 per cent in volume (5,436 mt) from a year ago and 22 per cent in value ($30.6 million).

TheCattleSite News Desk

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