2023 NCBA: USMEF’s Dan Halstrom speaks on beef, pork exports in 2023

What to expect throughout 2023
calendar icon 3 July 2023
clock icon 4 minute read

Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation spoke with Global Ag Media’s, Sarah Mikesell at the 2023 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association conference, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Beef exports

Growth in the US beef export market continue to be a topic of discussion throughout 2023.

“It's broad-based growth across quite a few different markets that are adding to this record pace,” said Halstrom. “It's not just the growth in mainstay markets like Japan, Korea and Mexico, but China also had a big year. There are also other developing regions such as Central America, in places like Colombia, that are growing which are providing some optimism.”

New opportunities and target markets

Diversification of the market base is the key to finding new opportunities and increased growth, he said. The USMEF is looking at specific areas for new opportunities to educate consumers about US meat opportunities.

“One area is Indonesia, the beef demand has been spotty in past, but there's a lot of indicators to show the middle class is really emerging and starting to understand US beef and the quality that the US offers the market,” he said.

Another area is Africa, where there has been a solid variety meat market including beef livers, hearts and kidneys.

“Now we are starting to see a shift in the muscle meats as well,” said Halstrom.

Markets like Angola, Morocco, South Africa and Nigeria are on the radar of the USMEF to expand beef exports in the future.

“We've increased a presence in these targeted areas and are starting to get serious about telling the US beef story in Africa,” said Halstrom.

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa with the largest population, is closed to most everything legally now, but Halstrom thinks that will change over time with the reinforcement of information about US beef.

Effect of smaller cattle supply on US beef exports

“Our mission remains the same, even with a slight downward turn in beef production for the next couple years,” explained Halstrom. “We remain focused on diversifying the market for the entire carcass as a product mix.”

With short plates and short ribs, the vast majority of those two products are already being exported. So, Halstrom said they’ll be focused on secondary or alternative cuts, like shoulder clods from the chuck, the whole gooseneck, and the whole round complex, as well as the knuckles and insides.

“The round is extremely undervalued, so concentrating on these alternative cuts will be the focus for diversifying the whole carcass,” said Halstrom. “In the past, Taiwan and Japan would not have considered these other cuts but these countries are starting to see the value of these secondary cuts.”

Getting the right cut to the right market

Halstrom explains, “We are exporting the whole carcass, but it's putting the right cut into the right market to maximize value.”

This makes it imperative to know the culture, demand and the spending power of the market to be successful.

“If we focus on matching the culture, demand, and the spending power as the industry packers have done in the past, it's a recipe for victory for the future of US beef exports,” said Halstrom.

Expectations for pork industry and exports

“Pork exports were down 7% to 8% in 2022, mainly because of it being down in China, especially in the first half of the year, but pork exports rallied in the last half of the year,” said Halstrom.

Exports improved because of variety meats and muscle cuts.

“2022 was a record year and was still the third largest year ever, even though exports were down,” said Halstrom.

The USMEF’s strategy remains the same due to expectations for broad-based growth across a lot of different regions.

“Mexico had a ‘home run’ growth record this last year and Central and South Americas are both growing at a high rate,” said Halstrom.

Japan and Korea are some mainstay markets, but growth in some other countries, such as Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam, where there hasn't been a lot of traction in the past, are showing signs of opportunity for US pork exports.

“Overall, I think the potential increase in US pork production in the next year should put the USMEF in a good position to see continued growth in US pork exports,” said Halstrom.

More in this series: 2023 NCBA

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