US Beef Slump Continues

US - The lingering global economic slump and low prices for domestic beef products in key export markets contributed to declines in US exports in June, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
calendar icon 14 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Beef exports have declined two per cent in volume and six per cent in value for the first half of 2009, reaching 435,260 metric tons (959.6 million pounds) valued at almost $1.5 billion. For the month, beef export volumes slipped 13 per cent and the value fell 16 per cent.

The success of beef muscle cuts versus variety meat is the opposite of pork: beef muscle cut exports have increased four per cent over the first half of 2009 to 284,388 metric tons (almost 627 million pounds) valued at $1.2 billion – a 1 per cent increase over 2008. And for the month of June, beef muscle cuts increased 2.5 per cent in volume while the value slipped just over 4 per cent. This was the largest monthly beef muscle cut export volume since last October.

At the same time, U.S. beef variety meat exports are down 12 per cent in volume (150,872 metric tons or 332.6 million pounds) for the first six months of 2009 while the value of those exports has slipped 26 per cent to $275.8 million. For the month, exports of beef variety meat were down 40 per cent from last June.

Of note, exports to the United States’ top three beef variety meat markets were down significantly in June: Mexico was down 59 per cent to 7,100 metric tons (15.7 million pounds), the lowest monthly volume since 2005. The No. 2 variety meat export market, the Middle East was down 21 per cent in June to 6,143 metric tons (13.5 million pounds) while exports to Russia – the No. 3 market – were off 46 per cent at 1,301 metric tons (2.9 million pounds). On a positive note, variety meat exports to Canada and Japan were up 23 and 121 per cent, respectively.

Of the leading U.S. beef (muscle cuts plus variety meat) export markets, Japan has been the biggest bright spot, increasing 9.6 per cent in volume and 9.7 per cent in value during June versus one year ago. For the first six months of the year, beef export volume to Japan is up 17 per cent to 40,316 metric tons (88.9 million pounds) valued at $209.4 million – an 18 per cent hike. Japan is the No. 3 market for U.S. beef in terms of value, and No. 4 in volume.

The No. 4 U.S. beef export market when measured in value, the ASEAN region, is another growth area, with six-month beef export totals up 35 per cent in volume (32,933 metric tons or 72.6 million pounds) and 56 per cent in value ($105 million), although the region was down sharply in June versus last year.

The top destination for U.S. beef, Mexico, continues to struggle with its economic recovery. Total beef exports to Mexico were down 27 per cent in volume in June and are off 22 per cent for the first half of 2009, reaching 155,439 metric tons (342.7 million pounds) valued at $498 million for the first six months.

The No. 2 export market for U.S. beef, Canada, saw volumes slip five per cent in June while export values fell 12 per cent compared to a year ago. For the year, export volume is down 10 per cent to 71,303 metric tons (157.2 million pounds) valued at $309.8 million, a 15 per cent dip.

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