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US beef exports trend higher

11 March 2020

US - Following a record-breaking performance in 2019, January US beef exports were higher year-over-year, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5 percent from a year ago in volume (107,374 mt) and 5 percent in value ($672.7 million). But beef muscle cut exports were the highest ever for the month of January at 81,342 mt, up 4 percent from a year ago, while muscle cut value increased 5 percent to $589.2 million. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $302.93, up 3 percent from a year ago. Exports accounted for 13.1 percent of total beef production, down slightly from a year ago, and 10.6 percent for muscle cuts only (steady with January 2019).

Release of the January export data comes as coronavirus is dominating news headlines, including those related to global trade. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the virus has had an impact on red meat exports, which will likely be more evident in February and March data, but a number of supply and demand fundamentals and market access improvements have underpinned continued strong export volumes.

"The first quarantine actions in China were taken in late January and the calendar had turned to February before coronavirus became a major health concern in countries such as South Korea and Japan," Mr Halstrom said.

"But despite logistical challenges, a severe decline in tourism and a notable impact on sit-down dining, overall demand for red meat in these markets is quite resilient. Retail meat sales have remained strong and both retailers and restaurateurs are utilizing e-commerce and delivery services at unprecedented levels. While it’s definitely a challenging situation, the Asian food industry is adapting to these conditions and finding creative ways to accommodate consumers."

Taiwan, Mexico lead January beef export growth

The value of US beef exports to Taiwan was record-high for the seventh consecutive year in 2019, and exports are off to a great start in 2020. January exports to Taiwan increased 24 percent from a year ago to 5,226 mt, valued at $43.5 million (up 18 percent). The United States dominates Taiwan’s chilled beef export market, capturing 75 percent market share last year and 83 percent in January 2020.

"The Taiwanese market is a remarkable success story for US beef, especially for a country with fewer than 25 million residents," Mr Halstrom said.

"US beef has an ever-widening footprint in Taiwan that goes way beyond high-end dining and retail. By introducing a wider range of cuts, the US industry and its importers and customers are finding new ways – including exciting new retail packaging and merchandising techniques – to capitalise on growing demand in Taiwan and make US beef available to more and more consumers."

January beef shipments to Mexico were up 4 percent from a year ago to 21,992 mt, while value jumped 15 percent to $117.2 million. Mexico is the largest destination for beef variety meat exports, which increased 9 percent to 9,438 mt, valued at $26.7 million (up 14 percent).

Coming off a record year in 2019, exports to South Korea remained strong in January, though volume was down slightly from a year ago (17,794 mt, down 1 percent) and value dipped 3 percent to $130.6 million. However, US beef continues to capture greater market share in Korea and the outlook remains positive for export growth in 2020, despite Korea’s current economic challenges.

Beef exports to leading market Japan, which are also benefiting from lower tariff rates this year, declined 3 percent from a year ago in January to 25,205 mt, valued at $158.1 million (down 5 percent). On a more positive note, import data show chilled beef volume to Japan increased 14 percent to 10,686 mt. The tariff rate for US beef muscle cuts dropped from 38.5 percent to 26.6 percent on 1 January and will decline to 25.8 percent on 1 April, the same rates imposed on major competitors in Japan.

Other January highlights for US beef exports include:

  • Exports to the Middle East jumped 16 percent to 6,464 mt, valued at $17 million (up 12 percent). Variety meat exports to Egypt (primarily livers) make up most of the US export volume to the region, but January results were also bolstered by larger muscle cut exports to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  • Led by steady growth in the Dominican Republic and a large increase in the Bahamas, exports to the Caribbean were up 3 percent from a year ago to 2,212 mt, while value increased 15 percent to $16.3 million.

  • Beef exports to China continue to develop, with January volume reaching 876 mt (up 7 percent year-over-year) valued at $6.5 million (up 4 percent). However, the market access gains included in the US-China Phase One agreement have not yet been implemented. This agreement will significantly expand the percentage of US beef eligible for export to China and holds outstanding potential for the US industry.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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