U.S. beef exports in October edged higher than they were in September, but were still down from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U. S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.

October beef exports rebounded to some degree from their low September totals, but were still down 14 percent from a year ago in volume (208.3 million pounds) and fell 26 percent (to $508.2 million) compared to the record-high value posted in October 2014 ($687.1 million). Through the first 10 months of 2015, beef exports were down 12 percent in volume to 1.93 billion pounds and were 10 percent lower in value at $5.28 billion.

Beef exports cool to Korea and Taiwan, but improve in some key markets

South Korea and Taiwan have been top performers for U.S. beef exports in 2015, but demand in these markets softened in October. Exports to Korea were down 7 percent in volume (22.8 million pounds) in October and fell 30 percent in value ($58.8 million). For January through October, exports to Korea were still up 7 percent in volume to 226.9 million pounds and reached $671.7 million in value, which was steady with last year’s pace.

In Taiwan, October exports fell 16 percent in volume (5.9 million pounds) and 13 percent in value ($24 million), but January-October exports were still up 3 percent in volume to 65 million pounds, and value remained on a record pace at $265.3 million, up 9 percent.

The decline in Korea and Taiwan was offset to some extent by higher October totals in the Middle East, ASEAN and Caribbean. For January through October, these regions posted the following results:

  • Export volume to the Middle East was down 16 percent year-over-year to 212.8 million pounds, but value was up 8 percent to $246.8 million. Egypt continues to be a critical destination for U.S. livers and other variety meat, while the leading muscle-cut markets are the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
     
  • Led by strong exports to the Dominican Republic, exports to the Caribbean was up 1 percent year-over-year in volume to 42.2 million pounds and 10 percent higher in value at $135.9 million.
     
  • U.S. beef exports to the ASEAN region were down 16 percent in volume from a year ago (38.5 million pounds) but were 7 percent higher in value ($115.3 million), led by substantially larger shipments to Vietnam and Singapore.

U.S. beef exports to Japan have struggled in 2015. Though Japan remains the largest value destination for U.S. beef, it slipped below Mexico in volume, as January-October exports dipped 15 percent year-on-year to 388.5 million pounds. Export value to Japan was down 18 percent to $1.1 billion.

“Japan’s total beef imports from all suppliers are down about 6 percent this year, but it is noteworthy that both Australia and Mexico have made gains in Japan while imports from other suppliers are down significantly,” Seng explained. “Both countries enjoy lower tariffs in Japan through their respective economic-partnership agreements, and the year-to-date results certainly show the importance of this advantage.”

Beef exports to Hong Kong were also well below year-ago levels through October, falling 25 percent in volume (203.7 million pounds) and 29 percent in value ($641.1 million). Although officials from the U.S. and China continue to discuss resumption of beef exports, China remains closed to U.S. beef.

January-October beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production and 10 percent for muscle cuts only – each down one percentage point from the same period last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $278.06, down 5 percent from a year ago.

Complete January-October export totals for U.S. beef are available from USMEF’s statistics webpage.

For more information, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or 303-547-0030.