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Tremendous first half for U.S. beef exports

Published on 07 August 2018

Strong June results capped a huge first half of 2018 for U.S. beef exports, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in June of 90,745 metric tons (mt), up 15 percent from a year ago. When adding variety meat, total beef export volume was 115,718 mt, up 6 percent, valued at $718.4 million – up 19 percent year over year and only slightly below the record total ($722.1 million) reached in May. First-half exports set a record pace in both volume and value as international customers bought a larger share of U.S. beef production at higher prices, indicating strong demand. Export volume was up 9 percent from a year ago to 662,875 mt, while export value was just over $4 billion, up 21 percent. In previous years, export value never topped the $4 billion mark before August.

"It's remarkable to think that as recently as 2010, beef exports for the entire year totaled $4 billion, and now that milestone has been reached in just six months," noted Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. "This should be a source of great pride for the beef industry, which has remained committed to expanding exports even when facing numerous obstacles. And with global demand hitting on all cylinders, there is plenty of room for further growth."

June exports accounted for 13.4 percent of total beef production, up from 12.8 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.3 percent, up from just under 10 percent last year. First-half exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total beef production and 11 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $313.56 per head of fed slaughter in June, up 19 percent from a year ago. The first-half average was $316.94 per head, up 18 percent.

Asian markets lead the way, but U.S. beef accelerating in nearly every region

Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to climb in June, totaling 31,147 mt (up 13 percent from a year ago), valued at $193.1 million (up 11 percent). First-half exports to Japan were up 6 percent from a year ago in volume at 159,354 mt, while value increased 12 percent to $1.02 billion. This included a 4 percent increase in chilled beef to 73,968 mt, valued at $590.1 million (up 15 percent).

June exports to South Korea were up 46 percent from a year ago in volume (21,408 mt) and set another new value record at $154.8 million (up 68 percent). First-half exports to Korea climbed 36 percent to 113,283 mt, valued at $802.1 million – up 52 percent from last year’s record pace. Chilled beef exports to Korea totaled 25,400 mt (up 35 percent), valued at $244.8 million (up 47 percent).

For January through June, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

  • Despite trending lower in June, first-half exports to Mexico were up 2 percent from a year ago in volume (117,524 mt) and up 10 percent in value ($506.7 million). Mexico is the leading destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which increased 8 percent from a year ago in value ($114.8 million) despite a 6 percent decline in volume (50,209 mt).

  • Exports to China/Hong Kong increased 15 percent in volume (65,345 mt) and 43 percent in value ($510.8 million). First-half exports to China, which reopened to U.S. beef in June of last year, were 3,655 mt valued at $33 million. Although China's duty rate increase on U.S. beef (from 12 percent to 37 percent) didn't take effect until July 6, June exports slowed in part because of rising uncertainty, as China's proposed retaliatory tariff list that included U.S. beef was published in April.

  • Beef exports to Taiwan continue to soar, as first-half volume increased 32 percent from a year ago (26,865 mt) and value was up 39 percent ($249.7 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 34 percent in volume (10,974 mt) and 46 percent in value ($136.2 million), as the U.S. captured 74 percent of Taiwan's chilled beef market – the highest market share of any Asian destination.

  • Strong growth in Colombia helped push first-half exports to South America higher than a year ago – up 2 percent in volume (14,030 mt) and climbing 20 percent in value ($63.9 million). Export value to Chile and Peru also increased, despite volumes dipping below last year. Although still a small market, exports to Ecuador (600 mt) were the largest since 2013.

  • Beef exports to the ASEAN region slowed in June but still posted year-over-year gains in the first half – up 6 percent in volume (21,802 mt) and 24 percent in value ($122.8 million). This region – especially Indonesia and the Philippines – is an important destination for beef variety meat exports, which climbed 27 percent in value ($13.1 million) despite a slight decline in volume (6,212 mt).

  • Fueled by sharply higher exports to Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama, first-half volume to Central America increased 27 percent from a year ago to 6,942 mt, valued at $38.8 million (up 26 percent).

Complete export results for U.S. beef are available on USMEF’s statistics web page.

Monthly charts for U.S. beef exports are also available online.  end mark

—From U.S. Meat Export Federation news release