May 13, 2016


US beef exports show uptrend to international markets



US beef cattle are now expanding, following many years of reduction which affected the domestic and export markets.


As a result, beef exports are demonstrating "an encouraging level of improvement in March, especially to key Asian markets," according to Philip Seng, the president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).


Currently, more beef cuts are made available, with most destined for deliveries to Asia.


Furthermore, the export potential appears promising: in Japan and South Korea, for example, local supplies remain limited, accounting for high prices and a greater demand for imports. The USMEF is reportedly attempting to get back market share for US beef in these countries, with support from the Beef Checkoff Program. The body is focusing especially on key customers including importers, traders and representatives from the retail and foodservice sectors. 


The beginning of 2016 reveals a degree of improvement in exports to most Asian markets. The biggest in six months, January deliveries to Japan amounted to 16,762 tonnes, a 21% spike year-on-year. The export value rises 2% higher to US$93.2 million.


The volume for first quarter beef exports to Japan increased 9% year-on-year to 116.5 million pounds (52,844 tonnes), but value dropping 7% to US$300.4 million. A potent demand for US beef tongues also propelled beef variety meat exports to the country by 21% in volume in the first quarter. This resulted in a volume of 21.8 million pounds (9,888 tonnes) and a 22% increase in value to US$70.4 million.


Elsewhere in Asia, January export volumes for Hong Kong and the ASEAN region had also rose beyond year-ago levels. South Korea and Taiwan are the top performers, with the exports to the former having jumped 25% year-on-year in volume during the first quarter, and at a value of US$205 million.


First quarter exports of beef variety meat to South Korea also fared positively, with a significant spike in volume of more than 133% to 8.8 million pounds (3,992 tonnes), and increasing 84% in value to US$17.6 million.


Taiwan saw a 20% rise in US beef volume to 16.8 million pounds (7,620 tonnes), and a value that ups 3% to US$66.4 million.


In these markets, the demand for high-quality chilled US beef cuts is strong in both the retail and foodservice sectors.


For the Middle East, first quarter beef exports to the region rose 13% to 60.9 million pounds (27,624 tonnes). Value, however, declined 11% to US$60.3 million.


Deliveries of variety meat to Egypt show a 47% increase year-on-year in March. First quarter volume for the country rose 14% to 54.1 million pounds (24,539 tonnes).


Beef muscle cuts exports to the UAE, the Middle East's top market, increased 8% year-on-year in the first quarter, to around 3.3 million pounds (1,497 tonnes), but falling in value by 2% to US$17.3 million.

In March, beef exports reached 194.3 million pounds (88,133 tonnes), a 3% increase from a year ago. The figure pushes first-quarter volume to more than 562 million pounds (254,919 tonnes), up 2% from the same period last year.


Still, March's export value - at US$483.3 million - dropped 8% from a year ago, although it was the highest since December 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, export value, at US$1.36 billion, was down 13% year-on-year


US beef exports would also further benefit from the reopening of China - the fastest growing beef import market in the world - to the meat products. Presently, US trade officials are collaborating with the beef industry in restoring access for the country's beef.


US beef have been prohibited from entering the Chinese market after the first BSE case on the States was reported in December 2003. A resumption of the beef trade could solidify better prices for US beef cuts that are delivered to other Asian countries.

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