The fourth U.S. case of BSE announced on April 24 produced only minimal impact on U.S. beef export, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
“All things considered, we are pleased with the manner in which beef exports have weathered the most recent BSE case,” says Phil Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “With the exception of Saudi Arabia, we have not suffered any significant setbacks in terms of market access. And though we expected consumer interest to slow temporarily in markets such as Korea, the May export results were actually quite strong.”
The U.S. exported 95,221 metric tons during May, the strongest month of 2012. Volume, however, was down 13 percent compared to May 2011 and stood 10 percent lower (456,343 metric tons) through the first five months of the year.
Beef export value in May totaled $471.1 million, four percent higher than the previous year, and helped keep year-to-date export value ($2.19 billion) five percent ahead of last year’s record pace.
The USMEF noted that in several major markets beef export volume had slowed moderately compared to the first five months of last year but increases in export value were still achieved.
For instance, beef export volume was down by six percent to Japan at 56,297 metric tons, but value was 13 percent higher at $370.7 million. In May, Japan was the largest destination for U.S. beef with the highest export volume (16,166 metric tons) in 10 months. Export value for May at $105.3 million, however, was up 28 percent compared to May 2011.
USMEF says regulatory officials in Japan continue to examine the 20-month cattle age limit on beef imported from the U.S., Canada and the European Union, but have so far enacted no change in the policy.
Another example of increasing values of beef exports is Canada, the only $1 billion market for U.S. beef in 2011. During May export volume was down 7 percent to 64,260 metric tons, but value was up 10 percent to $404.5 million.
An exception to the trend of declining volume and increasing value was identified by USMEF in Russia and Central and South America, places where U.S. beef exports are surging in both volume and value. Export volume to Russia from January to May was 24 percent ahead of last year at 32,307 metric tons, and 83 percent higher in value at $138.8 million. Exports to Central and South America were up 42 percent in volume at 14,715 metric tons, and 83 percent in value at $53.8 million.
“In Russia, we are aggressively promoting U.S. beef across several sectors and in a variety of geographic regions,” Seng said. “From the Black Sea coast where the next Winter Olympics will be held, to the far eastern port of Vladivostok, U.S. beef is becoming more widely known and is in very high demand. Russia has expanded the import quota for U.S. beef this year, and we intend to make full use of that opportunity.”
“In Central and South America, we have capitalized on some excellent growth opportunities,” he explained. “Trade barriers have limited available supplies from Paraguay and Argentina, increasing demand in markets such as Chile, Peru and Colombia. This is one reason for the tremendous interest in this week’s USMEF Latin American Product Showcase, which has attracted a strong turnout of buyers and exporters to Bogota.”