September Beef Exports Lower

U.S. beef exports in September were well below a year ago. Despite sluggish volumes, however, the value of beef exports through the third quarter of 2012 remains ahead of last year’s record-setting pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the beef checkoff.

“We are definitely in a challenging economic environment, which is making it difficult to match last year’s export volumes,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “But our products continue to command an excellent price in the international markets and provide substantial returns to U.S. producers, which is critically important at a time when they face extremely high production costs.”

With fewer production days this year, September beef production declined 9 percent and exports fell 17 percent in volume to 199 million pounds. September export value dropped 4 percent to $442.8 million, but was significantly higher on a per-head-of-fed-slaughter basis – increasing 7 percent to $227.65.

Despite January-September beef export volume being down 12 percent to 1.8 billion pounds, export value totaled $4.1 billion. This was 2 percent above last year’s record pace and already exceeded the 2010 full calendar year total of $4.08 billion. Exports equated to 9.8 percent of muscle cut production and 12.7 percent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat, compared to last year’s ratios of 11 percent and 14 percent. Export value averaged $213.63 per head of fed slaughter, up about 6 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

Beef exports to Japan remain red-hot
September beef exports to Japan were just 2 percent higher than last year in volume (27 million pounds), but surged nearly 25 percent in value to $86.6 million. This was consistent with the January-September performance in which exports were steady in volume (267 million pounds) but 23 percent higher in value ($806.1 million).

Japan now ranks second in export value to Canada, where January-September exports were down 13 percent in volume (277 million ounds) but still achieved a 5 percent increase in value ($829.7 million).

Mexico remains the leading volume market for U.S. beef, but exports to Mexico have struggled in 2012, – reflecting a weak peso and sluggish economy. Through September, exports to Mexico were 21 percent lower than a year ago in volume (334 million pounds) and 12 percent lower in value ($642.6 million).

With an expanded tariff-rate quota helping boost demand, beef exports to Russia are on pace for another record year. January-September exports were up 8 percent in volume (136 million pounds) and 24 percent in value ($242 million) over the same period last year.

Though U.S. beef still lacks access to mainland China, export growth to Hong Kong has made the region a 2012 bright spot. Exports to Hong Kong were up 14 percent in volume through September at 95 million pounds, and increased 32 percent in value to $224 million.

Led by remarkable growth in Chile and solid performances in Peru and Guatemala, January-September exports to Central and South America climbed 36 percent in volume (58 million pounds) and were 73 percent higher in value ($99.2 million). In fact, exports to the region have already exceeded last year’s full calendar year records of 57 million pounds and $85.5 million.

Complete export results for beef are available online. For more information about your beef checkoff investment in foreign marketing programs, visit

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The beef checkoff increases beef demand through promotion, research and new product development, and a variety of other marketing tools.