Japan Tops Beef Export Market Highlights

US - Beef exports to Japan continued to shine in August, up 20 per cent in volume (17,588 metric tons) from a year ago and increasing 48 per cent in value to $119.3 million. Through August, 2012 exports to Japan were steady with last year in volume at 108,720 metric tons, but 23 per cent higher in value at $719.5 million – ranking a close second behind Canada for the leading beef value market.
calendar icon 16 October 2012
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“While the timeline is uncertain, we remain hopeful that a broader supply of US beef will soon be eligible for Japan,” Seng said. “This is more critical than ever as demand for US beef is extremely strong. In addition to the traditional forequarter cuts and short plates, and other items such as beef tongue, our key buyers in Japan have a growing interest in middle meats and very high-end cuts. Demand for Prime and higher-level Choice cuts is very promising.”

Though exports to Canada were down 15 per cent in volume through August (111,372 metric tons), export value remained four per cent above last year’s record pace at $736.5 million. Exports to the Middle East followed a similar pattern, slipping nine per cent in volume (103,231 metric tons) but increasing four per cent in value to $229 million. Beef muscle cut exports to the Middle East (-18 per cent in volume to 28,397 metric tons and steady in value at $127.5 million) continue to be hindered by lack of access to Saudi Arabia, which closed to US beef due to the April 24 BSE case.

Led by a strong performance in Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region were up 11 per cent in value ($181.9 million) through August despite a six per cent decline in volume (44,548 metric tons). Beef markets achieving increases in both volume and value included:

  • Russia, +8 per cent to 52,907 metric tons and +31 per cent to $214 million;
  • Hong Kong, +9 per cent to 36,907 metric tons and +28 per cent to $194.1 million;
  • Central and South America, +37 per cent to 23,766 metric tons and +77 per cent to $87.9 million.

Mexico remains the largest volume market for US beef at 140,228 metric tons (-17 per cent) but has slipped to third in value ($590 million, -9 per cent). While still a critical market for underutilized muscle cuts and variety meat, Mexico’s weak peso and sluggish economy have contributed to a difficult business climate in this price-sensitive market.

Exports to South Korea (84,406 metric tons, -23 per cent, valued at $388.8 million, -20 per cent) faced similar circumstances, but were also curbed by a surge in domestic meat supplies. With Korea’s livestock inventory recently reaching its highest level ever, its imports from all major beef suppliers have trended lower this year.

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