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USMEF: Beef exports closed 2023 on encouraging note

Beef

While 2023 beef exports were below the record totals posted the previous year, December exports were the largest since August and December export value increased 10% year-over-year.

Posted on Feb 14 ,00:20

USMEF: Beef exports closed 2023 on encouraging note

December exports of U.S. beef totaled 108,497 mt, down 4% year-over-year but the largest since August. Export value was also the highest since August and climbed 10% year-over-year to $860.8 million. 

2023 beef exports totaled 1.29 million mt, down 12% from the 2022 record. While export value fell 15% to just under $10 billion, this was still the third highest annual value for beef exports. 

"There is no question that 2023 was a challenging year for U.S. beef exports, especially in our largest Asian markets where economic conditions have weighed on foodservice demand", said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Of course, we were also challenged on the supply side, with less product available for export. But nevertheless, U.S. beef achieved excellent growth in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and we are encouraged by the December uptick in demand in South Korea and China. It was also great to see such strong per-head export value in December, topping $430".

Mexico’s demand for U.S. beef continued to strengthen in December, with shipments increasing 14% from a year ago to 21,325 mt. Export value climbed 19% to $111.9 million. With interest in U.S. beef soaring among both retail and foodservice customers, 2023 exports increased 14% to 210,567 mt, the highest since 2019, while value surged 23% to $1.19 billion, the second highest value on record. While Mexico is an outstanding market for beef muscle cuts, especially those derived from the round and chuck, it is also the leading volume destination for U.S. beef variety meat. In 2023, variety meat exports increased 16% year-over-year to 109,084 mt, while value increased 19% to $318 million.

While December beef exports to leading market South Korea remained lower than a year ago in volume (23,327 mt, down 4%), export value climbed 14% to $220.6 million – the highest in 18 months. For 2023, exports to Korea fell 16% below the 2022 record but still reached 248,562 mt. Export value was down 22% but still reached $2.13 billion, marking the third consecutive year that exports to Korea topped $2 billion. On another high note, the U.S. industry captured a record 68% of Korea’s chilled beef imports in 2023. 

December beef exports to China also showed some renewed momentum, with export value increasing 19% from a year ago to $126 million – the highest since September. Export volume increased 16% to 14,289 mt, similar to the previous two months. For the full year, exports to China declined 22% to 189,191 mt, valued at $1.6 billion (down 25%). The news was more encouraging in Hong Kong, where business travel and tourism continue to rebound from the impact of prolonged COVID-related restrictions. In 2023, beef exports to Hong Kong increased 14% year-over-year to 39,506 mt, valued at $415 million - up 6%. 

Other 2023 results for U.S. beef exports include: 

  • December exports of beef variety meats improved from a year ago, climbing 5% to 25,197 mt, while export value jumped 12% to $101 million. Both volume and value were the highest since June. For the full year, beef variety meat exports were down 4% year-over-year to 285,486 mt, while value fell 9% to $1.13 billion. 
  • Beef exports to Central America closed 2023 on a high note, with December shipments climbing 31% from a year ago to 2,041 mt, valued at $13.9 million (up 47%). These results pushed 2023 export volume to a record 21,068 mt, up 4% from a year ago, while value increased 7% to $149.3 million – also a record. Export volume and value were record-large to leading market Guatemala and to Honduras, while shipments to El Salvador set a volume record. 
  • December beef shipments to the Dominican Republic increased 14% from a year ago to 1,142 mt, while value soared 26% to $11.8 million. These results pushed 2023 exports 2% higher than a year ago in volume (9,673 mt) and 10% higher in value ($107.4 million) – both annual records. Similar to pork, the DR’s demand for U.S. beef has been bolstered by a robust rebound in tourism and heightened interest from retail consumers. 
  • Although beef exports to Taiwan were below the record levels posted in 2022, demand proved more resilient than in other major Asian markets. Shipments to Taiwan totaled 60,310 mt, down 7% year-over-year, while value fell 16% to $625.5 million. By emphasizing the value and quality of alternative beef cuts, the U.S. maintained its dominant position in Taiwan’s chilled beef sector, capturing 75% market share. 
  • While beef exports to South America declined in 2023, Peru decidedly bucked this trend. Shipments to Peru rebounded 20% year-over-year to 7,613 mt, while value climbed 13% to $31 million. Muscle cut exports to Peru were steady with the previous year at 1,509 mt, but variety meat exports increased significantly – climbing 27% in volume (6,104 mt) and 14% in value ($11 million).  Peru is the third largest destination for U.S. beef liver exports, of which export volume was up 17% from 2022 at 4,843 mt, with value up slightly at $6.5 million. 
  • Despite a December slowdown, beef exports to Africa increased 49% in 2023, reaching 20,464 mt. Export value climbed 22% to $25.4 million. Shipments to leading market South Africa increased 69% to 13,142 mt, valued at $14.1 million (up 31%) as beef variety meat shipments rebounded strongly and were the second largest after 2020.  South Africa is the top destination for U.S. beef kidney exports and the second largest destination for liver exports. 2023 exports also increased to Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Morocco and Tunisia.    
  • Beef export volume to Japan remained subdued in December, reaching just 18,530 mt (down 25% year-over-year). Export value fared somewhat better, falling 6% to $141.5 million. For the full year, exports to Japan dropped 22% to 243,019 mt, while value declined 23% to $1.8 billion. The weak yen, Japan’s high import duties and declining disposable incomes have hurt Japan’s beef demand, but the recent rebound in tourism is driving some optimism in the foodservice sector.     
  • December beef export value equated to $431.50 per head of fed slaughter, up 11% from a year ago and the highest since April. The 2023 average was $397.04 per head, down 11% from the record level ($448.57) posted in 2022. Exports accounted for 14.4% of total December beef production and 11.9% for muscle cuts, each down about one-half percentage point from a year ago. For 2023, these ratios were 14% of total production and 11.7% for muscle cuts – down from the record 15.2% and 13%, respectively, in 2022. 

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