U.S. beef exports in November showed signs of a rebound, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.

November beef exports totaled 211.2 million pounds, down 1 percent from a year ago but the largest volume since June, while export value fell 17 percent to $519.7 million. For January through November, beef exports were down 11 percent from a year ago in both volume (2.145 billion pounds) and value ($5.8 billion). January-November exports accounted for 13 percent of total production and 10 percent for muscle cuts only – each down one percentage point from a year ago. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $279.12, down 6 percent year-over-year.

Beef exports gain momentum in most Asian markets, but decline continues in Japan

November beef export volume increased year-over-year to several key Asian markets, including:

  • Exports to Korea increased 8 percent in volume (26.3 million pounds), while value fell 21 percent to $69.4 million. For January through November, exports were up 7 percent in volume (253.2 million pounds) but down 3 percent in value ($741.1 million). Korea’s imports of chilled U.S. beef were up 40 percent through November, with U.S. market share gaining 6 percentage points to 30.6 percent.
     
  • Export volume to Hong Kong was the largest of 2015 at 31.9 million pounds, up 2 percent, but value fell 30 percent to $79.6 million. For January through November, exports to Hong Kong were down 22 percent in volume (235.6 million pounds) and 29 percent in value ($720.7 million).
     
  • Taiwan was up 16 percent in volume (5.9 million pounds) and 13 percent in value ($25 million). January-November exports were up 4 percent in volume (70.9 million pounds) and 10 percent in value ($290.3 million). U.S. beef dominates Taiwan’s chilled imports, with a 66-percent market share.
     
  • Export volume to the Philippines surged 192 percent to 3.1 million pounds, and increased 35 percent in value ($5.4 million). January-November exports were up 5 percent in volume (26.2 million pounds) and 11 percent in value ($60.3 million).

Japan was the notable exception to the positive November trend, with exports declining 21 percent in volume to 32 million pounds and 31 percent in value to $94.4 million. Through the first 11 months of the year, export volume to Japan fell 15 percent to 420.5 million pounds. Although Japan is still the leading value market for U.S. beef, export value declined 19 percent to $1.19 billion. Japan imported less beef from all suppliers in 2015, and still has large frozen inventories of imported beef weighing on the market. But the U.S. lost market share to Australia in 2015, with U.S. share dropping from 38 percent to 35 percent. This was due in part to Australia’s 10 percentage point tariff advantage following implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement in January 2015.

November beef exports to leading volume market Mexico increased 3 percent year-over-year to 43.2 million pounds, while value dipped slightly to $86.9 million. For January through November, exports to Mexico were down 8 percent in volume (443.2 million pounds) and 5 percent in value ($994.5 million). Exports to Egypt, a key market for beef livers and other variety meat, increased by 33 percent in volume (23.6 million pounds) and 25 percent in value ($14.4 million) in November. Through the first 11 months of 2015, exports to Egypt were down 14 percent in volume (213.6 million pounds) but increased 5 percent in value to $143.1 million.

“November offered some encouraging signs for U.S. meat exports, though the results were certainly not at the levels we would like to see,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Despite the weak peso, our beef exports to Mexico have held up fairly well. Exports to most Asian markets are showing upward momentum, but clearly the need to defend and expand our market share in Japan has never been greater.”

Looking ahead to 2016, USMEF sees opportunities for U.S. beef to regain market share, with larger U.S. production and improved market access in some key regions, but the competitive landscape remains very intense.

Complete January-November 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.