October 2014 beef exports were up 2 percent year-on-year to 242.2 million pounds and export value reached a record-high $687.1 million – up 22 percent from a year ago. The volume of muscle-cut exports was down 2 percent to 168.6 million pounds, but still increased 19 percent in value to $596.5 million, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff.

Strong variety meat exports helped offset lower volumes for beef muscle cuts in October. For the month, variety-meat exports increased 14 percent in volume to 73.6 million pounds and an impressive 39 percent in value to $90.6 million.

For the first 10 months of 2014, beef export volume was up 3 percent year-on-year to more 220 million pounds, and export value reached $5.87 billion – 15 percent ahead of last year’s record pace!

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said that while the slowdown in muscle cut volumes is concerning, October results were solid overall.

“Although global demand for beef muscle cuts remains strong, the U.S. industry is facing some headwinds,” Seng said. “Lower slaughter numbers have impacted available supply, and the U.S. dollar continues to strengthen relative to the currencies of a number of our key competitors and import customers.”

Seng added that the October results serve as a reminder of the importance of variety meat exports to the U.S. meat and livestock industries.

“Strong demand for variety meat is very positive news for the industry, because these products contribute significantly to the profitability of U.S. producers,” Seng said. “USMEF has also heightened the focus on alternative muscle cuts in many of our educational workshops and seminars. Familiarizing buyers with these economically priced cuts has been helpful in addressing price and exchange rate concerns.”

Japan, Korea, Hong Kong drive beef export growth

October beef exports represented 15 percent of total production and 11 percent of muscle-cut production, compared to 13.5 percent and 11 percent, respectively, a year ago. For January through October, exports equated to 14 percent of total production and 11 percent for muscle cuts (up from 13 percent and 10 percent).

The value of beef exports per head of fed slaughter was $321.28 in October (up $70 from a year ago) and averages out to $287.32 for the first 10 months of the year, up $42.80 from the same period in 2013.

Exports to leading market Japan were exceptionally strong in October, increasing 25 percent in volume to 49.8 million pounds and 54 percent in value to $164 million. For January through October, U.S. beef exports to Japan totaled 456 million pounds (up 2 percent) valued at $1.33 billion (up 11 percent).

Other January-October beef-export highlights include:

  • Exports to South Korea were up 12 percent in volume to 211.7 million pounds and 41 percent in value to $674.9 million. October export volume was the largest of the year at 24.6 million pounds.

  • Exports to Hong Kong have already set a new annual value record of $898 million, easily surpassing the 2013 full-year total of $823.3 million. October export volume was the largest ever at nearly 37 million pounds.

  • Led by strong growth in the Dominican Republic, exports to the Caribbean were up 20 percent in volume to about 42 million pounds and 26 percent in value to $124 million – just short of the full-year value record ($127 million) set in 2012.

For more information about beef exports, visit www.usmef.org.