Exports of U.S. beef moved 3 percent higher in volume in May, and a healthy 9 percent in value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.
The inability of the United States to ship beef to Russia continues to put a damper on U.S. red meat exports this year. Excluding Russia, beef export volume for May increased 12 percent and export volume for the first five months of 2013 rose 3.5 percent instead of falling 3 percent.
“The loss of a key market like Russia ripples through the red meat industry,” said U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip Seng. “The absence of one of the largest meat purchasers in the world affects the volume of product sold and, more importantly, the price that other customers need to pay for it in a competitive marketplace.”
Summary of May beef results
In May, total U.S. beef (muscle cut and variety meat) exports rose 3 percent over last year’s levels to 215 million pounds valued at $513.6 million, a 9 percent increase. They accounted for 10 percent of beef muscle cut production and 12.7 percent of beef and variety meat production, similar levels to last year.
For January through May, export volumes dipped 3 percent to 972 million pounds valued at $2.26 billion, a 3 percent increase over last year’s record-setting pace.
The value of beef exports in May equated to $231.67 per head of fed slaughter, up from $207.09 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $220.59 per head, up more than $10 from last year’s total of $209.97.
Markets where access for U.S. beef has improved this year led the way in May. Japan jumped 74 percent to 62 million pounds, just 8 percent shy of totals posted in May 2003.
“We were confident that the market for U.S. beef in Japan would rebound when our access expanded,” said Seng. “Our team in Japan is working aggressively to explore untapped niches to maintain the growth momentum for beef.”
Beef exports also rose to Hong Kong (56 percent to 16 million pounds) while Taiwan’s totals increased from 621,000 pounds last year to 6 million pounds this May.
Exports were also steady to higher for: Canada (30.8 million pounds, +1 percent), Egypt (25 million pounds, steady), Central/South America (8.7 million pounds, +15 percent driven by larger volumes to Chile) and the Caribbean (3.7 million pounds metric tons, +2 percent on larger volumes to Jamaica).
Beef exports to Russia in May fell from 17 million pounds last year to 8,800 million pounds this year. For the year, exports to Russia are down 99 percent in volume (from 67 million pounds to 77,161 pounds) and 99 percent in value (from $133.77 million).
Besides Russia, countries where beef exports remain challenged include Mexico (33 million pounds, -4.5 percent), South Korea (16 million pounds, -33 percent), and ASEAN (3 million pounds, -59 percent on smaller volumes to Vietnam and the Philippines).
Mexico is buying less beef as consumers turn to more affordable proteins like poultry and pork. U.S. poultry exports to Mexico were up 19 percent through May to 785 million pounds. At the same time, South Korea’s increased domestic beef production, combined with lower-priced Australian product, has dampened demand for high-quality U.S. beef.
Through May, Japan was the leading destination for U.S. beef with exports up 56 percent. They accounted for 20 percent of all U.S. beef exports by volume and 24 percent of export value. Mexico was No. 2 in volume but Canada was second in value. South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Egypt rounded out the top seven in value. The volume ranking was: Japan, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Complete export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.
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