August beef exports lower than a year ago

Oct 19, 2012
by WLJ

Despite a continued slump in U.S. red meat export volume and a further dip in August sales, the value of beef exports for the first eight months of the year remained slightly ahead of 2011’s recordsetting pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S.

Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.

U.S. beef exports in August were the second largest of the year at 221 million pounds, but this was still 14 percent below the August 2011 volume. In value, August exports totaled $486.2 million. While 5 percent lower than a year ago, it was also the second-highest monthly total of 2012.

For January through August, beef exports were 11 percent lower than a year ago in volume (1.6 billion pounds) but still 2 percent above last year’s record value pace at $3.66 billion.

“We face a challenging business climate in several key markets, with rising production costs and slowing economic growth creating some anxiety among buyers,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We’re also seeing a surge in domestic meat supplies in some areas, particularly in South Korea. But the commitment to enhancing global demand for U.S. beef remains very strong, as evidenced by the terrific support of our producer organizations. These are the circumstances in which effective global marketing takes on an even greater level of importance as producers need to maximize the value of every cut and every carcass.”

January-August beef exports accounted for 9.8 percent of muscle cut production and 12.7 percent when including variety meat—down from last year’s ratios of 11 percent and 14.2 percent. Export value per head of fed slaughter, however, was up about 6 percent from last year to $212.05.

Japan tops beef export market highlights

Beef exports to Japan continued to shine in August, up 20 percent in volume (38 million pounds) from a year ago and increasing 48 percent in value to $119.3 million. Through August, 2012 exports to Japan were steady with last year in volume at 239 million pounds, but 23 percent higher in value at $719.5 million—ranking a close second behind Canada for the leading beef value market.

“While the timeline is uncertain, we remain hopeful that a broader supply of U.S. beef will soon be eligible for Japan,” Seng said. “This is more critical than ever as demand for U.S. beef is extremely strong. In addition to the traditional forequarter cuts and short plates, and other items such as beef tongue, our key buyers in Japan have a growing interest in middle meats and very high-end cuts. Demand for Prime and higher-level Choice cuts is very promising.”

Complete export results are available online.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment in foreign marketing programs, visit — WLJ