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Beef exports grow in volume, value through February

U.S. Meat Export Federation Published on 13 April 2011

The positive trend for U.S. beef exports continued in February, with an increasingly large portion of total U.S. production going to international customers while returning more revenue to America’s red meat industry, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

For the month of February, U.S. beef exports accounted for 12.9 percent of total production versus 10.6 percent last year at this time, and the incremental value of beef exports per head of fed slaughter reached $182.12, compared to $126.50 last year. For the month, total beef exports were up 47.2 percent in value and 25 percent in volume over year-ago levels.

A trend has emerged in beef exports with strong growth across a diverse base of international markets. For the first two months of 2011, virtually every significant export market showed growth versus 2010 levels.

Exports of U.S. beef in February reached 89,787 metric tons valued at $371.7 million. For the first two months of 2011, those totals are 179,460 metric tons valued at $727.3 million, increases of 24 percent in volume and 45 percent in value. Mexico, South Korea, Canada, the Middle East and Japan are the top five export markets.

Mexico leads the way in volume and value, importing 40,542 metric tons valued at $151.6 million, increases of 3 percent in volume and 22 percent in value over last year as this key market continues its rebound from the global economic slump that affected it more profoundly and for a longer period than many nations.

South Korea consumers continued to show their growing acceptance of U.S. beef by boosting their purchases by 121 percent in volume and 142 percent in value for the first two months of 2011, reaching 28,150 metric tons valued at $120.2 million.

“The success we’re seeing in South Korea for U.S. beef is extremely gratifying,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “It wasn’t that long ago that public sentiment was very unfavorable for U.S. beef. But, with the support of Checkoff dollars and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), we have devoted significant resources to an aggressive “Trust” imaging campaign – now in its second phase – and proactive partnerships with prominent Korean retailers and foodservice outlets. We’re seeing the fruits of those efforts.”

According to the Global Trade Atlas, the gap between Australian beef exports to South Korea and those from the U.S. has narrowed significantly over the past two years. In 2009, Australia’s market share of Korea’s imported beef (based on value) stood at 51.8 percent versus 33.9 percent for the U.S. This year Australia holds a narrow lead of 45.6 percent to 42.6 percent.

 Other top U.S. beef export markets include:

* Canada: up 15 percent in volume and 33 percent in value to 24,877 metric tons valued at $123.5 million for the first two months of 2011.

* Middle East: up 37 percent in volume and 78 percent in value to 20,856 metric tons valued at $45 million despite widespread unrest in the region. Egypt once again proved its mettle as a mainstay market for U.S. beef, with increases of 30 percent in volume (16,511 metric tons) and 78 percent in value ($25.9 million), overcoming an uncertain period in which the government was in transition and economic activity was temporarily stalled.

* Japan: despite continued market access limitations (only accepting beef from cattle 20 months of age and younger) up 75 percent in volume and 81 percent in value to 20,359 metric tons valued $106.2 million.

Editor’s notes:

- Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise indicated.

- One metric ton = 2,204.622 pounds