April exports of U.S. beef were below the volumes recorded a year ago but there are positive developments in play, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff. Through the first four months of 2016, beef exports were steady with last year’s pace in volume, but fell 13 percent in value.

Beef exports totaled 194.4 million pounds in April 2016, down 4 percent from a year ago, while export value fell 13 percent to $481 million. Through the first four months of the year, beef exports were 756.6 million pounds valued at $1.84 billion.

April exports accounted for 13 percent of total beef production and 10 percent for muscle cuts only, each down about 1 percentage point from last year. For January-April, these ratios were down slightly from a year ago, at 12.5 percent and 9.5 percent. Export value averaged $252.42 per head of fed slaughter in April – down 15 percent from a year ago but the highest of 2016. January-April export value averaged $245.56 per head, down 16 percent.

“Although volumes were lower year-over-year, we did see encouraging signs in the April export results,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “For U.S. beef, improvement in Mexico and other Western Hemisphere markets was a very positive development. USMEF has worked closely with the retail and foodservice sectors to promote underutilized cuts and overcome our price challenges in these markets, and those efforts are definitely paying dividends.”

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