Editor’s notes:
- Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted
- One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds

Beef exports posted solid results in October, with export value ($496 million) increasing 10 percent over last year despite a 4 percent decline in volume (101,447 mt). This was consistent with this year’s January-October pattern, which has seen an 11 percent decline in volume (951,886 mt) compared to 2011 while export value ($4.6 billion) remained 2 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said that in the beef complex, volume continues to struggle compared to last year but export value is very strong.

“Considering the economic headwinds we face in several markets, beef export value is holding up extremely well – especially on a per-head basis,” he said. “For livestock producers who are facing some very tough obstacles, the export markets are truly a source of optimism.”

Canada, Japan stand out for October beef exports

October beef exports accounted for 10 percent of beef muscle cut production and 12.6 percent when including variety meat. This compared to 11 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively, in October 2011. For January-October, exports accounted for 9.8 percent of muscle cut production and 12.7 percent including variety meat – down from 11 percent and 14.2 percent during the same period last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter was 6 percent higher than a year ago, both in October ($222.03) and for January-October ($214.51).

Individual market highlights for U.S. beef included:

  • Exports to Canada were the largest since August 2011, totaling 19,129 mt (+35 percent from a year ago) valued at $123.2 million (+66 percent). This pushed the January-October totals to 144,754 mt (-9 percent) valued at $952.8 million (+11 percent).
  • Japan continued its strong recent performance with October exports of 12,829 mt valued at $91.8 million. This was up only slightly from last year’s volume but 25 percent higher in value. For January-October, export volume was steady at 134,036 mt while export value surged 24 percent to $898 million.
  • Exports to Russia were record-large in October, totaling 11,702 (+70 percent) valued at $41.5 million (+55 percent). For January-October, exports to Russia climbed 15 percent in volume (73,625 mt) and 28 percent in value ($283.7 million).
  • October exports to Central and South America were up just 1.5 percent in volume (2,211 mt) but increased 15 percent in value ($10.1 million). For January-October, exports to the region totaled 28,397 mt (+33 percent) valued at $109.3 million (+65 percent). Chile – the leading value market in the region for U.S. beef – recently announced resumption of beef imports from Paraguay, which has been out of the market for about one year due to foot-and-mouth disease. However, other strong growth markets for U.S. beef in the region include Peru, Guatemala, Panama and Honduras.
  • Exports to Taiwan, which have been on the rebound since the recent adoption of a maximum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine, posted the best monthly performance since December 2011 at 3,759 mt (+25 percent) valued at $23.4 million (+34 percent). January-October totals remained far below last year, but the strong October results suggest a promising finish to 2012.

Exports to leading volume market Mexico continued to struggle as high prices have negatively impacted Mexico’s total beef consumption. Exports to Korea have also been well below last year’s pace, primarily due to record-high domestic beef production. This has impacted demand for beef imports not only from the United States, but also from other suppliers such as Australia and New Zealand.