U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports through September increased 17 percent in volume to record a year-to-date total of 562,781 metric tons. The value of those exports increased 29 percent to $1.9 billion, compared to the same time last year.

During September, U.S. exports of beef and veal cuts, and beef variety meats totaled 66,958 metric tons. Although that was 4.9 percent lower than the previous month, it was 21.5 percent higher than September 2006.

Growth in exports to all markets, except Mexico and Taiwan, brings year-to-date volume to 58 percent of that in 2003 for the same time period, even though in effect Russia, China and Indonesia remain closed to U.S. beef exports and Japan has limited access. Japan was the fourth-largest market for U.S. beef through September, with export volume up to 35,594 metric tons, valued at $183 million.

Mexico is the top market for U.S. beef and beef variety meat, with exports through September reaching 262,597 metric tons, which was 5 percent less than the same time last year but up 1 percent in value, at more than $872 million. Mexico accounted for 46.7 of the total beef exports through the first three quarters of 2007.

Total U.S. beef exports to Canada through the first three quarters of 2007 was 30.9 percent higher than the previous year, at 93,200 metric tons, valued at nearly $426 million. Exports to Canada and Mexico comprise 63 percent of total export volume compared to 34 percent during the same period in 2003.

Total year-to-date beef exports to South Korea equaled 23,065 metric tons, compared to 151 metric tons a year ago.

Total U.S. beef variety meat exports through the first three quarters of the year equaled 221,798 metric tons, 7.1 percent higher than a year ago. Exports of beef variety meats accounted for 39.4 percent of total exports through September.

USDA economists are projecting a 14 percent increase in exports of beef and beef variety meats for 2008.