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Another Strong Month for U.S. Beef Exports

published: October 10th 2017
source: USMEF


U.S. beef exports posted another outstanding performance in August, remaining well above last year’s pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). August pork exports increased from the previous month but were down slightly year-over-year.

August beef exports totaled 112,069 metric tons (mt), up 5 percent from a year ago and the largest of 2017. Export value was the second-highest on record at $679.1 million – up 20 percent from a year ago and trailing only the record-high value ($688.8 million) reached in October 2014. For January through August, beef exports increased 10 percent in volume (823,433 mt) and 16 percent in value ($4.65 billion) compared to the first eight months of 2016.

Exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total U.S. beef production in August and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts only, compared to 13.7 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, last year. For January through August, beef exports accounted for 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.2 percent) and 10.1 percent (steady with last year) for muscle cuts. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $290.05 in August, up 13 percent from a year ago. Through August, per-head export value was up 9 percent to $275.81.

Pork exports totaled 183,658 mt in August, down 2 percent year-over-year, valued at $511.4 million, down 0.3 percent. January-August volume remained 9 percent above last year’s record pace at 1.61 million mt, while export value increased 11 percent to $4.21 billion.

Exports accounted for 23.1 percent of total pork production in August (down from 24.1 percent a year ago) and 19.2 percent for muscle cuts only (down from 20 percent). For the first eight months of the year, the percentage of total production exported was 26.9 percent (up from 25.4 percent last year). For pork muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 22.4 percent (up from 21.3 percent). Export value per head slaughtered trended lower in August at $47.98, down 3 percent from a year ago, but the January-August average was still up 8 percent to $53.28.

“As we head into the final quarter, 2017 is shaping up as a very solid year for red meat exports but one in which the U.S. industry still faces significant challenges,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “We have new pork plants coming on line and strong cattle-on-feed numbers, which sends a positive signal to our international customers about product availability. But the international markets are increasingly competitive, so we must continue to aggressively pursue new opportunities for U.S. red meat products in both our traditional mainstay destinations and in emerging markets.”

Beef exports to Japan largest of post-BSE era; strong rebound continues in Hong Kong

August beef exports to leading market Japan totaled 31,001 mt, up 22 percent from a year ago and the largest of the post-BSE era. Export value to Japan increased 35 percent and broke the $200 million mark ($200.05 million) for the first time since May 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 23 percent in volume (209,502 mt) and 30 percent in value ($1.28 billion). Japan’s frozen beef safeguard was triggered in late July, increasing the duty on frozen beef imports from suppliers without a trade agreement with Japan, including the U.S., from 38.5 percent to 50 percent. The true impact of the higher duty rate will be revealed over the next few months, but August demand was not significantly affected. Frozen exports were 9,991 mt, up 15 percent from a year ago and just 2 percent below July. Chilled shipments accelerated at a faster rate (16,732 mt, up 62 percent year-over-year and up 27 percent from July), but this was already the trend prior to the duty rate increase on frozen beef.

Similar to July, beef exports to South Korea dipped slightly from a year ago in volume (17,188 mt, down 2 percent) but were still the largest of 2017, while August value increased 19 percent to $116.9 million. Through August, exports to Korea increased 8 percent in volume (116,132 mt) and 19 percent in value ($746.3 million) These totals included an impressive 88 percent increase in chilled beef exports (to 27,378 mt) valued at $243.8 million (up 94 percent).

After a slow start to the year, exports to Hong Kong continued to climb in August, with volume up 26 percent year-over-year to 9,250 mt and value increasing 41 percent to $67.7 million. January-August exports increased 14 percent in volume (74,629 mt) and were 24 percent higher in value ($485.5 million). Since the mid-June market opening, beef exports to China totaled 473 mt valued at just under $6 million.

Other January-August highlights for U.S. beef exports included:

  • Despite trending lower in August, beef exports to Taiwan increased 10 percent from a year ago in volume (28,524 mt) and 20 percent in value ($256.4 million). This included chilled beef exports of 11,854 mt (up 17 percent) valued at $140 million (up 22 percent). U.S. beef holds more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market, the highest of any Asian destination.
  • Led by Chile, Peru and Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 21 percent year-over-year in volume (18,799 mt) and 22 percent in value ($74.5 million).
  • Growing demand for U.S. beef in the ASEAN region’s foodservice and retail sectors helped push exports up 74 percent year-over-year in volume (26,359 mt), with value up 55 percent to $130.1 million. Exports to Indonesia and Vietnam were double last year’s level, while strong growth was also achieved in the Philippines, the region’s largest market for U.S. beef.
  • Exports to Canada saw a strong increase in August, pushing January-August volume up 3 percent in volume (77,727 mt) and value up 6 percent to $543.7 million.
  • South Africa continued to gain momentum as a strong market for U.S. beef variety meat, maintaining its position as the fourth-largest volume destination for these items. January-August variety meat exports totaled 9,910 mt, up 249 percent from a year ago.

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