April -- Best Month of 2012 for Beef Exports
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April was the strongest month so far this year for U.S. beef exports, despite a decline of 8 percent in volume (208 million pounds) compared to last year. April export value was $469.6 million – 9 percent higher than a year ago. From January through April, beef exports were up 6 percent in value to $1.72 billion despite a 10 percent decline in volume (796 million pounds).
Though beef export volume has slowed somewhat from the record pace of 2011, higher export value has been achieved in nearly every major market. Export value per head of fed slaughter has been especially strong, reaching nearly $233 in April (compared to $203.70 a year ago) and averaging $210.77 for the first four months of the year.
April beef exports equated to nearly 14 percent of production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat, and 11 percent of production for muscle cuts only. These ratios were roughly even with April 2011 but higher than in the first quarter of this year.
Individual market highlights for U.S. beef included:
- April exports to Russia were the largest of the year, pushing 2012 exports 20 percent higher in volume (52 million pounds) and 92 percent higher in value ($100.5 million).
- Exports to Japan slipped by 10 percent in volume (88 million pounds) through April but still achieved an 8 percent increase in value to $265.4 million. A Food Safety Commission review of the 20-month cattle age restriction on imports of U.S. beef continues, though no definite timeline is in place for easing of this regulation.
- Led by soaring results in Chile and substantial increases in Guatemala and Peru, exports to Central and South America were up 38 percent in volume (24 million pounds) and 87 percent in value ($42.9 million) through April.
- Though exports to Korea remain lower for the year, April exports were higher than a year ago and the strongest of 2012. Through the first four months of 2012, exports to Korea totaled 103 million pounds (down 28 percent) valued at $220.5 million (down 22 percent).
- Exports to the Middle East remained strong with value up 15 percent to $108.4 million through April and volume down just 2 percent to 104 million pounds. This is an especially solid performance considering the recently weakening currency in Brazil, the region’s leading beef supplier.
It is important to note that April results are not likely to reflect any change in market access or consumer behavior as a result of the recent BSE case in California, which was announced April 24.
Complete export statistics for U.S. beef are available online.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment in foreign marketing programs, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
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.