USMEF: Beef exports show modest rebound


October beef exports remained well below last year’s large totals but improved from September, led by stronger demand in Mexico and Taiwan, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Posted on Dec 14 ,00:15

USMEF: Beef exports show modest rebound

Beef exports totaled 104,446 mt in October, down 17% from a year ago but 6% above the low volume posted in September. Export value was $836 million, down 11% year-over-year but 5% higher than September. January-October exports of U.S. beef reached 1.08 million mt, down 13% from the record pace of 2022, while value fell 17% to $8.32 billion. 

"On the beef side, economic headwinds in our largest Asian markets continue to weigh on demand, as consumers trade down to lower-priced proteins", said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "The recovery in Asia’s foodservice sector has been limited, but we remain hopeful that it will accelerate in 2024. Recent efforts to jump-start economic activity in these countries and address weakened currencies could also improve the business climate". 

A vibrant foodservice sector and a strong peso have combined to provide excellent momentum for U.S. beef exports to Mexico. While Mexico remains a preferred destination for underutilized cuts from the round, cuts from the chuck and rib complex are also achieving heightened demand in Mexico, where October exports increased 13% from a year ago to 18,456 mt, while value climbed 27% to $108.4 million. January-October exports to Mexico increased 15% to 171,399 mt, valued at $975.8 million - up an impressive 25%.

After a slow start to the year, Taiwan’s demand for U.S. beef fared better in the second and third quarters, and October exports totaled 4,923 mt, up 10% from a year ago, while value increased 17% to $54.6 million. This performance pushed January-October volume to Taiwan to 53,004 mt, down 6% from last year’s record pace, while value was down 17% to $539.5 million. The United States continues to be the dominant supplier of chilled beef to Taiwan, capturing 76% of the chilled import market. 

Led by record shipments to Costa Rica and growth in Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua, October beef exports to Central America climbed 23% from a year ago to 2,047 mt, while value soared 42% to $14.9 million – the highest in nearly two years. January-October shipments to the region moved 1% ahead of last year’s pace at 17,087 mt, with value increasing 3% to $120.4 million. Although October exports to leading market Guatemala were below last year, January-October shipments still increased 8% from last year’s record pace to 7,634 mt, valued at $59.4 million.  

Other January-October results for U.S. beef exports include: 

  • October beef export volume to the Caribbean was down slightly year-over-year at 2,094 mt, but export value still increased 16% to $18.9 million. January-October exports to the region dipped 6% to 22,303 mt, while value increased 5% to $207.3 million, with exports trending higher in both volume and value to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Netherlands Antilles.    
  • Beef exports to Africa, which are almost entirely variety meat, nearly doubled year-over-year in October, increasing 93% to 1,165 mt, while value jumped 69% to $2 million. Led by growth throughout the year in South Africa and Cote D’Ivoire and an October bump from Gabon, January-October shipments to Africa increased 58% to 18,143 mt, valued at $22.5 million (up 28%). 
  • Europe’s demand for U.S. beef gained momentum in October, with combined export volume to the European Union and United Kingdom up 15% from a year ago to 1,653 mt, while value jumped 67% to $26.7 million. January-October shipments to the region increased 7% to 17,923 mt, while value was 15% higher at $247.4 million. 
  • With Hong Kong’s tourism and business travel sectors recovering to some degree, beef exports have trended higher in 2023. Through October, shipments to Hong Kong increased 14% from a year ago to 32,991 mt, valued at $343.9 million (up 4%). 
  • While the positive results detailed above have offset some of the decline following the 2021-22 surge in U.S. beef’s largest Asian destinations – South Korea, Japan and China – the slowdown in demand in these markets continued in October. Through the first 10 months of the year, exports to Japan fell 22% to 205,381 mt, valued at $1.52 billion (down 25%). Exports to Korea were down 16% to 207,344 mt, valued at $1.75 billion (down 25%), while exports to China fell 25% in volume (160,773 mt) and 28% in value ($13.6 billion). 
  • Beef export value equated to $389.90 per head of fed slaughter in October, down 9% from a year ago. The January-October average was $395.40, down 14%. Exports accounted for 13% of total October beef production and 10.7% for muscle cuts only, each down about 2.5 percentage points from a year ago. The January-October ratios were 14.1% of total production and 11.8% for muscle cuts, down from 15.4% and 13.2%, respectively, in the first 10 months of 2022. 

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