U.S. beef export levels expected to remain steady in 2013

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Through November, U.S. beef exports were 12 percent below year-earlier levels, with reductions to date due, in part, to both decreased domestic supply and higher prices. Much of the reduction in U.S. exports has been to North American trading partners and to some major Asian trading partners, mainly South Korea. Exports to Canada and Mexico were 8 and 27 percent lower than those a year earlier, respectively, and exports to South Korea were 22 percent lower, while exports to Japan through November were only fractionally below year-earlier levels. Through November, U.S. beef exports to Vietnam and Hong Kong have maintained momentum this year, 4 and 17 percent higher year-over-year, respectively. U.S. beef export totals for 2012 are expected to be 2.484 billion pounds, or 11 percent below year-earlier levels. Exports for 2013 are expected to be about 1 percent lower, at 2.45 billion pounds. Strong foreign demand amid a continuing contraction in the U.S. cattle herd is expected to tighten U.S. beef consumption even further.

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