Officials do not anticipate a disruption in U.S. beef exports due to last month’s discovery of a BSE-infected cow in California. In the days after USDA announced the BSE case, major U.S. export markets such as Japan and Canada confirmed they were satisfied that a rigorous BSE-surveillance program had safeguarded the food system. U.S. authorities quickly told consumers and importers around the world there was no danger that meat from the infected California dairy cow would enter the food chain. Mexico, Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union said they would continue to import U.S. beef, although two major South Korean retailers halted sales.
In 2011, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, combined, took 65 percent, or 1.82 billion pounds, of U.S. beef exports.
“This finding will not affect trade between the United States and Canada,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement. “Both countries have implemented science-based measures to protect animal and human health.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the new case of BSE reported last month should have no bearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.
Prior to the BSE announcement, U.S. beef exports for 2012 were forecast at 2.7 billion pounds, a 2-percent decline from year-earlier levels. Most of this decline is expected to occur in the second half of the year. Domestic beef production will tighten further in the second half, down 5 and 9 percent year-over-year in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. First- and second-quarter export levels are forecast at 660 million and 720 million pounds, respectively, a 4- and 3-percent increase year-over-year. Export levels in the third and fourth quarters are forecast at 700 million and 645 million pounds, marking a 9-percent and a 6-percent decline, respectively.
According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, February beef export volume, at 87,131 metric tons, was 3 percent lower than a year ago, but export value increased 10 percent during the same period to $409 million. Through the first two months of the year, beef exports totaled 176,585 metric tons, a 2-percent decline from the same period last year, but the value of exports increased 12 percent over the same period last year to $815 million.
According to USMEF, February beef exports equated to 12 percent of production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat, and 9 percent for muscle cuts only. This compares to 12.9 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in February 2011. Export value equated to $208.05 per head of fed slaughter, up 14 percent from last year’s $182.12.