The United States exported 167 million pounds of beef in August, a 24-percent decrease from last year. Total beef exports in August 2008 were particularly high, as it was the first full month that U.S. beef was able to be exported to South Korea and high demand for beef in Russia caused a spike in beef exports there. Demand in Russia has fallen since the global financial crisis began. Exports to South Korea have also been affected by the financial crisis and a weak South Korean economy, which is affecting consumer spending and the strength of the South Korean won compared to last summer. In addition, a surge in exports to South Korea in the first few months after U.S. exporters regained access has resulted in large inventories of U.S. beef in South Korean warehouses. These conditions have continued to affect U.S. beef exports and are responsible for most of the decrease in comparisons of year-over-year monthly totals.

Year-to-date, beef exports have decreased 4 percent. Exports to Japan have increased 16 percent year-to-date, as the Japanese yen remains strong against the dollar. Additionally Japanese demand for U.S. beef is for more value-oriented dishes and for restaurants, such as beef-bowl restaurants, which would fare better than higher-end dining during the recession. Exports to Mexico and Canada, the two largest foreign markets for U.S. beef, have decreased 18 percent and 14 percent year-to-date. Mexico has been particularly affected by the global recession. Through September, the Mexican peso had weakened by more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar compared with last year. Demand for U.S. beef has fallen, as increased U.S. exports of pork and broiler meat to Mexico indicate that consumers have shifted toward less expensive animal proteins.

The United States is expected to export 1.73 billion pounds of beef this year and is forecast to increase shipments 6.7 percent in 2010. The relative value of the dollar and beef demand in foreign countries will be the most important factors for U.S. beef abroad. A weakening dollar would make U.S. beef relatively less expensive overseas.