April exports well above 2009 levels

Jun 18, 2010
by WLJ

While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume at 77,027 metric tons, or 169.8 million pounds (lb.), and value, at $246.9 million, but these totals are down by 25 percent and 27 percent, respectively, compared to the first four months of 2009.

Despite dramatic gains in many overseas markets, Canada remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. beef. Beef/beef variety meat ex- ports to Canada are up 13 percent in volume (45,563 metric tons or 100.5 million lb.) and 17 percent in value ($199.4 million) compared to January-April 2009. In fact, April export value to Cana- da ($59.9 million) pulled within just 4 percent of Mex- ico ($62.2 million). U.S. beef exports to Asia continued to grow at a torrid pace in April. Japan is the leading Asian market in 2010 in terms of both vol- ume (26,740 metric tons or 58.9 million lb.) and value ($141.8 million). Each of these totals represents an increase of 34 percent more than January-April 2009 figures. South Korea is right on Japan’s heels, with a vol- ume of 26,321 metric tons (58 million lb.) valued at $112.3 million—increases of 39 percent and 58 percent, respectively, over last year. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region also performed very well in April, pushing its totals for the year up by 14 percent in volume (29,589 metric tons or 65.2 million lb.) and 16 percent in value ($97.9 million). Interestingly, this increase was achieved despite fairly flat results in Vietnam—by far the largest ASEAN market. The primary growth drivers were the Philippines and Indonesia, the No. 2 and No. 3 markets in the region.

Taiwan appears to have shaken off any lingering controversy over the recent reintroduction of U.S. bonein beef and may be headed for another record performance in 2010. Exports to Taiwan were up 69 percent in volume (11,533 metric tons or 25.4 million lb.) and 79 percent in value ($60 million).

Hong Kong has also achieved rapid growth this year, nearly tripling its imports of U.S. beef in terms of both volume (9,099 metric tons or 20.1 million lb.) and value ($35.6 million).

Impressive growth numbers are not limited to Asia, however. Exports to the Middle East continued their strong run, increasing 24 percent in volume and 45 percent in value compared to January-April 2009. Led by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, a growing percentage of U.S. beef exports to the Middle East are muscle cuts. But beef variety meat exports are showing signs of a strong price recovery in the region as they were up only slightly in volume but up by nearly 25 percent in value through April.

Russia has also expanded its purchases of U.S. beef to include a much higher percentage of muscle cuts, and this was illustrated clearly in the January-April results. Exports to Russia were up 173 percent in volume (19,525 metric tons or 43 million lb.) but an even more remarkable 613 percent in value ($47.5 million) compared to 2009.

In contrast to the downturn in Mexico, exports are performing very well in other Western Hemisphere markets. Beef/beef variety meat exports to the Dominican Republic were up more than 60 percent in volume and value, while Jamaica was up more than 30 percent. Exports to Central/ South America were up by 47 percent in volume and 54 percent in value, with variety meat exports to Peru and Colombia accounting for much of the growth. — WLJ