US Beef Exports Continue to Outpace Year-Ago Levels in February

US - February exports of US pork, beef and lamb were higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.
calendar icon 10 April 2018
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February beef export volume improved 11 per cent from a year ago to 100,593 mt, while export value increased 18 per cent to $599.8 million. Although this was the lowest monthly value total since May 2017, it is the highest on record for the month of February. January-February volume was 206,079 mt, up 10 per cent from the first two months of 2017, while export value was 20 per cent above last year’s pace at $1.22 billion.

Exports accounted for 13.6 per cent of total beef production in February, up one full percentage point from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.8 per cent (up from 10.1 per cent last year). Through February, beef exports accounted for 13 per cent of total production (up from 12.4 per cent) and 10.4 per cent for muscle cuts (up from 9.8 per cent). February beef export value averaged $322.29 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 per cent from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value averaged $306.69, up 15 per cent.

"Red meat exports are off to a strong start in 2018 and continue to deliver excellent returns for US producers," noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "The outstanding level of export value per head slaughtered is especially encouraging at a time in which US meat production is high and the trade climate is somewhat volatile.

"Through all the uncertainty, international customers remain very committed to US pork and beef. This reinforces the importance of having experienced USMEF staff members located in key markets, working every day to maintain customer loyalty and reinforce the United States’ reputation as a reliable supplier."

Chilled beef shipments to Japan, Korea and Taiwan drive export growth; Mexico and Hong Kong also trend higher

Beef export volume to leading market Japan declined in February (20,314 mt, -15 per cent year-over-year), as the frozen beef safeguard tariff (50 per cent, up temporarily from 38.5 per cent) contributed to a slowdown in frozen shipments. However, February export value to Japan was down only slightly at $133.4 million. Through February, total exports to Japan were 4 per cent below last year’s volume pace at 44,282 mt, but still increased 9 per cent in value to $282 million. This included an 18 per cent increase in chilled beef exports to 22,809 mt, valued at $175 million (up 29 per cent). Japan’s safeguard tariff on imports of frozen beef from the United States (and from other suppliers that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan) expired 31 March, so the tariff rate for both frozen and chilled imports from the US is now 38.5 per cent. Japan’s tariffs on imports of Australian chilled and frozen beef edged slightly lower on 1 April and now stand at 29.3 per cent and 26.9 per cent, respectively, under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

Beef exports to South Korea maintained a torrid pace in February, increasing 24 per cent from a year ago in volume (16,193 mt) and 31 per cent in value ($112.4 million). Through February, exports to Korea climbed 18 per cent in volume to 33,326 mt and were 32 per cent above last year’s record value pace at $234.8 million. This included chilled beef exports of 7,231 mt (up 34 per cent year-over-year) valued at $68 million (up 44 per cent). US beef is driving new consumption trends in Korea, where retailers and foodservice operators have intensified their focus on steak cuts and are highlighting features such as dry and wet aging. USMEF continues to educate the Korean meat trade and consumers about the quality and convenience of US steaks in this increasingly protein-centric market.

Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for US beef include:

  • Exports to Mexico, which is a critical destination for beef rounds, shoulder clods and variety meat, were 10 per cent above last year’s pace in volume (39,987 mt) and 19 per cent higher in value ($175 million). This included an 11 per cent increase in variety meat export volume (18,720 mt) and an impressive 36 per cent jump in variety meat value ($44.4 million).

  • Partly driven by demand for the Chinese New Year holiday, exports to Hong Kong jumped 41 per cent in volume (22,807 mt) from a year ago and 61 per cent in value ($168.6 million). Exports to China, which resumed in June 2017, totaled 1,187 mt valued at $11.1 million.

  • In Taiwan, an outstanding destination for chilled US beef, exports increased 25 per cent from a year ago in volume (8,106 mt) and 42 per cent in value ($78.2 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 53 per cent in volume (3,800 mt) and 61 per cent in value ($48 million) as the US holds 72 per cent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.

  • Exceptional growth in Chile and Colombia pushed exports to South America up 68 per cent year-over-year in volume (5,296 mt) and 62 per cent in value ($25.2 million). Exports to Brazil, which resumed in April of last year, totaled 215 mt valued at $2 million.

  • Strong performances in Indonesia and Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 42 per cent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (6,794 mt) and 34 per cent higher in value ($36.7 million). The region is especially strong for beef variety meat, with exports up 74 per cent in volume (2,008 mt) and 93 per cent in value ($4.4 million).

  • Strong growth in Angola and steady volumes to South Africa pushed beef exports to Africa up 26 per cent year-over-year in volume (1,981 mt) and 77 per cent higher in value ($3.1 million).

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