Strong Finish for 2016 Red Meat Exports

Beef export chartU.S. beef exports wrapped up an excellent 2016 performance with very strong December results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff.

Beef exports increased 11 percent in volume (to 2.6 billion pounds) and 1 percent in value (to $6.34 billion) from 2015. December exports totaled 257.6 million pounds, up 24 percent year-over-year. This was the largest monthly volume since July 2013 and the largest ever for a December. Export value was $619.1 million in December, up 22 percent.

Exports accounted for 13.7 percent of total beef production in 2016 and 10.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 13.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015. December exports accounted for 15.6 percent of total December beef production and 12.1 percent for muscle cuts only – each up more than 2 percent from a year ago and the highest since 2011. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $262.17, down 6 percent from 2015, but the December average was $301.97 – up 14 percent and the highest in nearly two years.

Asian markets drive strong beef export growth

Driven by strong demand for higher-value chilled cuts, beef exports achieved new value records in South Korea and Taiwan in 2016, and rebounded strongly in Japan.

In Korea, December beef exports soared by 81 percent in volume (44.8 million pounds) and 88 percent in value ($130 million) from a year ago. Those results capped a remarkable year in which exports totaled 395.2 million pounds (up 42 percent) valued at $1.06 billion – up 31 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous value record by more than 20 percent. In 2016, Korea’s per capita beef consumption set a new record of 34 pounds (carcass weight) – so the U.S. not only gained market share, but also capitalized on the market’s overall growth.

Beef exports to Taiwan were also strong in December, with export value ($43.3 million) hitting its highest level ever. Full-year exports to Taiwan were up 25 percent in volume to 97.1 million pounds and 14 percent in value to $362.8 million.

In 2016, exports to Japan were the largest of the post-BSE era at 570.2 million pounds, up 26 percent year-over-year. Export value totaled $1.51 billion, up 18 percent. Chilled beef exports to Japan totaled 247.7 million pounds, up 44 percent from 2015.

“In addition to the strength of the U.S. dollar, U.S. beef overcame other severe challenges in these north Asian markets and achieved remarkable results,” said Philip Seng, USMEF President and CEO. “Despite facing higher tariff rates in Japan compared to Australian beef, U.S. beef displaced its competition and won back significant market share. And, the investment the U.S. industry made to rebuild consumer confidence in Korea is paying tremendous dividends, especially in the retail sector. We’re seeing U.S. beef featured regularly by retailers who were once reluctant to carry the product.”

Other 2016 highlights for U.S. beef included:

  • Beef exports to Mexico increased 7 percent year-over-year in volume to 534.3 million pounds, though value fell 11 percent to $974.9 million. While challenged by a weak peso, Mexico remains a key destination for muscle cuts such as shoulder clods and rounds, as well as for beef variety meat.
  • Led by strong growth in Chile and a doubling of exports to Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 6 percent in volume to 50.3 million pounds, valued at $92.7 million (down 2 percent). The region should see further growth in 2017 with the reopening of Brazil.
  • Exports to Central America were up 7 percent in volume (28.1 million pounds) with top market Guatemala up 1 percent and exports to Honduras nearly doubling. Export value was $71.8 million, up 1 percent.
  • Fueled by a resurgence in Indonesia and solid growth in Vietnam, beef exports to the ASEAN region were up 41 percent in volume (65.9 million pounds) and 15 percent in value ($156.9 million). Indonesia expanded access for U.S. beef in early August. Despite being closed to many products through the first seven months of the year, U.S. exports to Indonesia set a new value record of $39.4 million.
  • Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent in volume (752.7 million pounds) and 4 percent in value ($902.2 million) in 2016. Liver exports increased 12 percent to 180.2 million pounds and reached a broader range of markets. While liver exports to Egypt – the largest destination for U.S. livers – increased 4 percent, further growth was achieved in Central and South America and with the reopening of South Africa to U.S. beef.

Complete 2016 export results for U.S. beef are available from USMEF’s statistics web page. Monthly charts for U.S. beef exports are also available online. If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or call 303-226-7309.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com. 

Did you find this helpful?

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Facebook

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


/MyBeefCheckoff