When first-quarter results for U.S. meat exports were released last week, the rebound in beef shipments to Taiwan emerged as one of the clear bright spots.
Meat exports to Taiwan suffered a significant setback in late 2011 and much of last year due to changes in Taiwan’s testing protocol for residues of beta agonist feed additives such as ractopamine. In an effort to enforce its zero-tolerance policy on the use of beta agonists, the Taiwanese government imposed new testing procedures that caused shipment disruptions and made the business environment very uncertain for meat importers.
But last summer Taiwan’s legislature approved a proposal allowing establishment of a maximum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine in both domestic and imported beef. When this policy change was implemented in September, the regulatory environment stabilized and negative publicity surrounding U.S. beef was greatly reduced. Exports have shown a steady recovery since that time, and are off to their best start ever in 2013. Through March, beef exports to Taiwan totaled 8,669 metric tons valued at $66.1 million – increases of 56 percent in volume and 88 percent in value over the first quarter of 2012.
In the attached audio report, Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing and communications, discusses the rapid recovery U.S. beef exports have made in this important market.
Because Taiwan made no changes in its beta agonist policy for pork, U.S. pork exports to Taiwan continue to struggle. March results were encouraging, as exports increased 8 percent in volume (1,916 metric tons) and 13 percent in value ($4.4 million) from a year ago. For the first quarter, however, pork exports were still down 14 percent in both volume (5,548 metric tons) and value ($12.3 million).
Halstrom notes that because the beta agonist controversy has faded from the media spotlight in Taiwan, demand for U.S. pork has been improving. But in order for the market to perform as its previous level, establishment of a ractopamine MRL for pork remains a high priority for the U.S. industry.