Beef exports running behind last year

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For January through April of this year, U.S. beef exports totaled 766,224 pounds, down from 856,478 during the same period in 2011. April exports totaled 207,814 pounds, down from 223,200 during April 2011 according to the latest agricultural trade data from USDA. April was, however, the best month so far this year for export volume, which totaled 207,814 pounds. Also, while export volumes this year have fallen behind those of 2011, the value of our beef exports continues to increase according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

USMEF estimates the value of April’s beef exports at $469.6 million, up 9 percent from a year ago and making April the best month for export value so far this year. For the January through April period, USMEF estimates a total value of U.S. beef exports of $1.72 billion, a 6 percent increase over the same period last year.

Our export volume to most countries for January through April was down, with the exception of a few trading partners including Vietnam, Russia and Egypt, which have shown gains this year according to the USDA report. While important, those countries are relatively small markets for U.S. beef. The “big four” among our export customers – Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea – have each imported less beef, by volume, so far this year. Those four countries accounted for 500,351 pounds of beef exports through April 2012, compared with 584,375 pounds during the same period last year.

Beef imports, meanwhile, have increased compared with last year in response to high domestic prices. January through April imports totaled 795,244 pounds, compared with 649,351 during the same period in 2011.

USMEF notes several key points in the latest trade data including:

  • April exports to Russia were the largest of the year, pushing 2012 exports 20 percent higher in volume and 92 percent higher in value, at $100.5 million.
  • Exports to Japan slipped by 10 percent in volume through April but still achieved an 8 percent increase in value to $265.4 million.
  • Though exports to Korea remain lower for the year, April exports were higher than a year ago and the strongest of 2012. Through the first four months of 2012, exports to Korea totaled 47,135 metric tons, down 28 percent, valued at $220.5 million, down 22 percent.
  • Exports to the Middle East remained strong with value up 15 percent to $108.4 million through April and volume down just 2 percent to 47,340 metric tons.

USMEF also points out that the April trade data do not reflect the fallout from the latest U.S. BSE case, announced on April 24. Most of our trading partners have taken a science-based approach and the effect of this case on market access has been relatively minor, but some suspensions in trade and decline in consumer demand likely will be apparent when the May trade data becomes available.

Access the latest livestock and meat trade data from USDA.

View monthly and annual meat-trade statistics from USMEF. 



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