New Beef Exports Record Set

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Date: Monday, December 12, 2011

Per-head value of U.S. beef exports exceeds $200

October was another excellent month for U.S. beef exports, which were valued at $452 million for the month, pushing the 2011 total to a new annual record of $4.49 billion. This is 37 percent ahead of the then-record pace established during the first 10 months of 2010. 

“Establishing a new annual value record just 10 months into the year is an extraordinary accomplishment, and one that the U.S. beef industry should be very proud of,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, a beef checkoff contractor. “Sustaining an aggressive export pace is critical for maintaining and creating American jobs and a positive balance of trade.” 

October beef export volume was about 233.5 million pounds, or about 10 percent higher than October 2010, pushing the 10-month 2011 volume total of nearly 2.4 billion pounds a full 24 percent ahead of last year’s pace. 

For the month of October 2011, beef exports equated to 11 percent of beef muscle-cut production and 13.9 percent of total production, including variety meat. That was consistent with the year-to-date ratio, and is up from 9 percent of beef muscle cut production and 11.7 percent of beef plus beef variety meat production exported last year. Exports were valued at nearly $210 per head of fed slaughter in October, pushing the 2011 total to $202.82 per head -- nearly $50 per head higher than last year’s average of $153.09!

A few country-by-country highlights:

  • Despite being down slightly in October, Mexico remains this year’s leading volume destination for U.S. beef at about 470 million pounds (up 6 percent over the first 10 months of 2010). In terms of value, Mexico was the U.S. export leader in the month of October, at $85.3 million, which pushed the 10-month total for the year – $818.2 million – about 25 percent ahead of 2010.
  • Canada holds its position as the top value market for U.S. beef in the first 10 months of 2011, with U.S. beef exports valued at $861.9 million, a new annual record and up 46 percent over the 2010 pace. Volume to Canada for the 10-month period is up nearly 30 percent, to 351.4 million pounds, also a new record. Monthly results for October were impressive, too, as Canada imported about 31.3 million pounds of U.S. beef, valued at just under $74 million.
  • For the 10-month period, Japan ranks as the third-largest individual export market for U.S. beef, both in terms of volume (295.1 million pounds) and value ($726.9 million). These totals exceed last year’s pace by 30 percent and 38 percent, respectively. October export volume was down slightly from last year, at about 27.8 million pounds, but the value of U.S. beef exports to Japan was up 13 percent for the month, to $73.7 million.
  • Beef exports to South Korea maintained a very strong pace in October, pushing the 2011 volume to 286.2 million pounds (up 43 percent from last year) valued at nearly $575 million (up 36 percent). “The continued rebuilding of consumer confidence in U.S. beef in both Japan and Korea is essential as these key markets recover sales volume and value that was lost in the post-BSE years,” said Seng. “The ‘We Care’ campaign in Japan and the ‘To Trust’ campaign in Korea have sown seeds that continue to yield positive results for the U.S. industry.”
  • Strong exports to Egypt helped push the Middle East to an impressive 10-month 2011 volume of 320.7 million pounds valued at $287.7 million – increases of 39 percent and 44 percent, respectively, over last year’s pace and setting new annuals records both for volume and value.
  • Exports to Russia set a new value record at $222.3 million during the first 10 months of 2011, surpassing last year’s pace by 66 percent. Strong export performance in Russia means the United States has already filled its 2011 tariff rate quota of 94 million pounds for beef muscle cuts.
  • Exports to the Central and South America also have set new annual volume and value records, with exports of U.S. beef to the region totaling of 47.2 million pounds valued at $66.3 million, led by strong growth in markets including Chile, Peru and Guatemala.


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The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.
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