US beef exports in July still bellow last year
US beef exports are trending lower than last year's levels, admitted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. July beef exports totalled 107,298 tonnes, up 36% from June but still 9% below last year. Export value was $647.8 million, the highest since March but down 10% from a year ago. July exports to China increased sharply year-over-year and shipments trended higher to Taiwan, Canada and Hong Kong. July exports were lower than a year ago to Japan and South Korea and declined significantly to Mexico. For January through July, beef exports were also 9% below last year’s pace in volume (698,907 tonnes) and 10% lower in value ($4.28 billion).
"Although there is still a long recovery ahead, the foodservice sectors in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China have rebounded more quickly than most other regions. Phase One has also helped spark importer interest in the Chinese market, where US beef is really just beginning to gain traction. There is unmet demand for high-quality, grain-fed beef in China, especially with Australian supplies tightening, and buyers are anxious to secure US beef," commented the head of USMEF. In the North American market, Canada continues to be a bright spot for US beef in 2020, with exports up 13% from a year ago to 64,677 tonnes, valued at $436.4 million (up 14%). Beef variety meat exports to Canada have been particularly strong, climbing 33% from a year ago to 5,675 tonnes, valued at $12.2 million (up 52%).
On the other hand, beef consumption in Mexico remains dependent on the foodservice and hospitality sectors and COVID-19 restrictions have hit exports hard in 2020. Beef is by far the most expensive protein in Mexico and demand has been negatively impacted by the economic slowdown. Through July, exports were 26% below last year in volume (100,230 tonnes) and 30% lower in value ($433.4 million). Variety meat exports have been less heavily impacted, falling 4% to 50,204 tonnes, worth $123.3 million (down 11%). Nevertheless, Dan Halstrom shows optimism for the rest of the year and expects a recovery for US red meat exports. "USMEF remains optimistic about a strong finish for US red meat exports in 2020, despite many challenges related to COVID-19," he added.