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USMEF: Beef export value highest in nine months

Beef

Beef exports were below last March’s large volume but export value was the highest since June 2023.

Posted on May 22 ,00:30

USMEF: Beef export value highest in nine months

March beef exports totaled 108,218 mt, down 10% from the large volume posted a year ago but still the highest of 2024. Export value was $889.9 million, down slightly from a year ago (-0.3%) but the highest in nine months. January-March exports totaled 311,865 mt, down 4% from the first quarter of 2023, but export value increased 6% to $2.48 billion. 

"Beef demand in the Caribbean was outstanding in March, and we continued to see a strong rebound in the Middle East as well as some positive signs in Korea and Japan, where the foodservice recovery is making progress", said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "It’s a challenging situation in terms of supply availability, but the value U.S. beef commands internationally is very encouraging – as evidenced by March export value climbing to more than $450 per head".

March was one of the best months ever for U.S. beef exports to the Caribbean, where shipments climbed 16% from a year ago to 3,398 mt – the third largest on record. Export value was the second highest on record, climbing 12% to $31.1 million.

This performance was led by record-large exports to the Dominican Republic, which increased 17% from a year ago to 1,238 mt. Export value to the DR soared 30% to a record $15.4 million. First quarter exports to the Caribbean increased 18% in volume (9,037 mt) and 14% in value ($76.4 million). In addition to the DR’s strong performance, first quarter exports increased to the Netherlands Antilles, Leeward-Windward Islands, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Turks and Caicos Islands. Beef variety meats achieved dramatic growth in Trinidad and Tobago.

Following a down year in 2023, the Middle East region’s demand for U.S. beef rebounded impressively in the first quarter. March exports totaled 5,342 mt, up 30% from a year ago, while export value climbed 22% to $22.2 million. First quarter exports to the region increased 41% from a year ago to 14,562 mt, valued at $61.5 million (up 40%). Much of this growth is attributable to larger beef variety meat shipments to Egypt, where March exports were the highest since December 2022. But muscle cut exports also increased dramatically to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar and trended higher to Israel, Bahrain and Jordan. 

Although March beef export volume to Mexico fell below the year-ago level for the first time in 15 months, the market still posted a solid performance. March shipments to Mexico totaled 16,628 mt, down 5% from a year ago, while export value increased 3% to $100.2 million. First quarter exports to Mexico increased 12% year-over-year to 56,499 mt, while export value jumped 18% to $333.5 million. Since gaining access last year, Brazil has emerged as the second largest supplier of beef to Mexico. 

Other first quarter results for U.S. beef exports include: 

  • March beef export value equated to $454.62 per head of fed slaughter, up 14% from a year ago and the highest since July 2022. The January-March average was $407.91 per head, up 9% from the first quarter of 2023. Exports accounted for 15% of total March beef production and 12.6% for muscle cuts, up from the year-ago ratios of 14.6% and 12.3%, respectively. First quarter exports accounted for 13.9% of total production and 11.6% for muscle cuts, both down slightly from a year ago. 
  • Beef exports to leading market South Korea continue to trend lower than a year ago in volume but still achieve higher value. March exports to Korea totaled 22,105 mt, down 14% year-over-year, but value increased 5% to $211.2 million – the highest since December. First quarter exports to Korea were down 8% to 58,968 mt, while value increased 10% to $553.9 million. For chilled beef, exports were down 4% to 17,550 mt while frozen volume fell nearly 10% to 38,497 mt. 
  • March beef exports to Japan also edged higher in value at $168.6 million, up 1% from a year ago and the highest since August. Although March export volume fell 7% to 21,412 mt, this was the largest total in 12 months. With the persistently weak yen weighing heavily on consumers’ purchasing power, first quarter exports to Japan fell 10% from a year ago to 62,692 mt, though export value was only down slightly (-1%) to $469.7 million. Japan’s central bank took actions over the past week aimed at bolstering the yen’s value, which had recently fallen to its lowest level versus the U.S. dollar since 1990. 
  • Although March beef exports to Central America trended lower in volume (1,751 mt, down 15%), export value still increased 14% to $15.3 million. Led by robust growth in leading market Guatemala and Panama, first quarter exports to the region increased 4% year-over-year to 5,708 mt, while value climbed 15% to $42.5 million. 
  • First quarter beef exports to Canada dipped slightly in volume (22,080 mt, down 1%) from a year ago, but export value increased an impressive 17% to $194.3 million. 
  • Beef exports to Taiwan slumped in March to 3,802 mt, down 33% from a year ago, while value fell 27% to $40.5 million. This pushed first quarter exports to Taiwan 18% below last year’s pace at 12,112 mt, while value fell 6% to $132.7 million. 
  • March beef exports to China/Hong Kong also trended lower in March, falling 13% from a year ago in volume (18,473 mt) and 11% in value ($168.1 million). First quarter exports to the region were down 7% to 51,122 mt, while value was down 2% to $469.8 million. 

First quarter lamb exports lower in volume, but value trends higher

March exports of U.S. lamb were 35% below last year at 246 mt, while export value fell 5% to $1.5 million. However, this year-over-year decline was mainly due to a large volume reported for the Middle East in March 2023, as March exports to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada all trended significantly higher than a year ago. 

First quarter lamb exports fell 5% in volume to 819 mt, but value increased 19% to $4.7 million. Value growth was led by the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, but exports also trended higher to Taiwan and the ASEAN.

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