May Beef Export Results Mixed
Contact: , 402-856-2097;
Although May was the strongest month so far this year for U.S. beef exports, volume (209 million pounds) was down 13 percent compared to May 2011 and stood 10 percent lower (1 billion pounds) through the first five months of the year. Beef export value in May ($471.1 million) was 4 percent higher than a year ago, which kept year-to-date export value ($2.19 billion) 5 percent ahead of last year’s record pace. These results are based on statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.
With the April 24 announcement of the fourth BSE case in the United States, May was the first month in which any BSE-related decline could be detected in export statistics. May beef exports did not reveal a major impact, though global totals were likely affected to some degree by the market closure in Saudi Arabia and negative media coverage in some Asian markets.
While year-to-date exports to Korea were down 24 percent in volume (128 million pounds) and 17 percent in value ($273.1 million), May results were higher (+5 percent in volume, +13 percent in value) in both categories. The main factors impacting U.S. beef exports to Korea in 2012 are an oversupply of domestic beef and a slumping Korean currency; Australia’s beef exports to Korea have also declined by about one-third compared to last year.
In several major markets, beef export volume has slowed moderately compared to the first five months of last year but increases in export value were still achieved. Examples include:
• Japan, where volume was down 6 percent to 124 million pounds but value was 13 percent higher at $370.7 million. In May, Japan was the largest destination for U.S. beef with the highest export volume (35 million pounds) in 10 months. Export value was up 28 percent from May 2011 to $105.3 million. Regulatory officials in Japan continue to examine the 20-month cattle age limit on beef imported from the United States, Canada and the European Union, but have so far enacted no change in the policy.
• In Canada, the only billion-dollar market for U.S. beef in 2011, export volume was down 7 percent to 141 million pounds but value was up 10 percent to $404.5 million.
• In the Middle East, export volume was down 7 percent to 132 million pounds while value was up 10 percent to $138.1 million. Although Saudi Arabia was the only country in this region to close to U.S. beef due to the BSE case, confusion regarding possible restrictions (which never materialized) in some other markets may have affected May results. Despite these issues, however, May export volume (28 million pounds) to the region was the largest since January.
• In the ASEAN region, export volume (57 million pounds) was down 12 percent while value ($112.3 million) was 13 percent higher. This trend was made possible by a surge in export value to the two largest markets, Vietnam (+21 percent to $82.6 million) and the Philippines (+31 percent to $18.9 million).
• In Hong Kong, where U.S. exports are still limited to boneless muscle cuts from cattle under 30 months of age, export volume (43 million pounds) was down 15 percent while export value ($112.9 million) was 12 percent higher. May export volume to Hong Kong (10 million pounds) was the largest monthly total of the year.
Two regions in which U.S. beef exports are surging in both volume and value are Russia and Central and South America. Though export activity to Russia has slowed in recent weeks, January-May exports were 24 percent ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (71 million pounds) and 83 percent higher in value ($138.8 million). Bolstered by terrific growth in Chile, exports to Central and South America were up 42 percent in volume (32 million pounds) and 83 percent in value ($53.8 million).
U.S. beef exports to Taiwan have slowed dramatically. Exports in May were down about 90 percent from last year, while year-to-date exports were 54 percent lower in volume (13 million pounds) and 47 percent lower in value ($39 million). While the Taiwanese government is expected to take action soon on a maximum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine in imported beef, U.S. beef sales likely face a lengthy recovery due to the political controversy surrounding this issue.
Complete export statistics for U.S. beef are available online.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment, 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.