USMEF: Challenging start for beef exports this year


U.S. beef exports were record-breaking in 2022 but slowed late in the year, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). This trend continued in January, as shipments were well below the large totals from a year ago.

Posted on Mar 14 ,00:15

USMEF: Challenging start for beef exports this year

Beef exports declined to several major destinations in January, though shipments increased sharply to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Africa. January volume fell 15% year-over-year to 100,942 mt, valued at $702.3 million (down 32%).

Beef inventories swelled in some key markets near the end of last year, contributing to a challenging environment for U.S. exports.

"While beef exports are off to a slow start in 2023, we remain optimistic that post-COVID foodservice demand will strengthen in additional markets as the year progresses", said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom.

January beef exports were down substantially in most Asian destinations compared to the large year-ago totals. The decline was especially sharp in South Korea, where volume dipped 36% to 18,896 mt and value fell 52% to $151.5 million. Korea is coming off a record year in which exports set an all-time record value for any single destination, reaching $2.7 billion.

The decline was less pronounced in Japan, where January exports were down 2% to 22,456 mt, with value falling 20% to $144.9 million.

Exports to China/Hong Kong, which also reached new heights in 2022, fell 24% from a year ago to 14,980 mt, valued at $125.3 million. China lifted COVID-related restrictions on residents and travelers late last year and eliminated testing and disinfection of imported cold chain products in January. But these changes came amid a significant wave in COVID cases, which likely delayed any boost in consumer demand.

Beef exports to Mexico showed positive momentum in January, climbing 20% from a year ago to 17,479 mt, valued at $94.7 million – up 19% and the highest in more than a year. U.S. beef could soon face heightened competition in Mexico, as earlier this week Mexican officials finalized import requirements for some imports from Brazil. This will be the first time the country has opened to Brazilian beef.

Other beef export results for January include:

  • Led by strong growth in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, January exports to the Caribbean climbed 26% from a year ago to 2,339 mt, with value up 15% to $19.6 million. Exports also increased to Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The Philippines continues to emerge as a promising destination for U.S. beef, with January exports climbing 73% from a year ago to 1,020 mt, valued at $6 million (up 17%).
  • Fueled by larger shipments to South Africa, exports to Africa nearly quadrupled last year’s low volume to reach 2,624 mt (up 284%). Export value increased 148% to just over $3 million. After a sluggish 2022, beef variety meat exports to South Africa rebounded strongly to 2,119 mt in January, the highest since April 2021 and the fourth largest monthly total on record. The majority of January exports to South Africa were beef livers.
  • While total beef exports to South America were fairly steady with last year (1,525 mt, down 1%), variety meat shipments increased sharply in January. Variety meat exports to Colombia jumped 140% from a year ago to 235 mt, valued at $323,000 (up 120%). Exports to Peru climbed 343% to 217 mt, valued at $374,000 (up 119%).
  • Exports to Taiwan, which were record-large in 2022, took a step back in January, dropping 34% from a year ago to 4,578 mt, valued at $44.3 million (down 47%).
  • January beef exports equated to $331.27 per head of fed slaughter, down 34% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 12.7% of total January beef production and 10.8% for muscle cuts only. Both were down significantly from the respective year-ago ratios of 15.4% and 13.3%.

Lamb exports open 2023 on high note

January exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts totaled 222 mt, up 161% from the low year-ago volume, while export value essentially doubled to $1.1 million (up 99%). Growth was led by strong increases to Mexico and the Caribbean, while shipments were also higher to Canada and Guatemala.

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