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USMEF: Slow beef exports in July

Beef exports took a step back in July, posting the lowest volume since January, but export value per head of fed slaughter again exceeded $400.

Posted on Sep 13 ,00:10

USMEF: Slow beef exports in July

July beef exports totaled 103,167 mt, down 18% from a year ago and the lowest in six months. Export value was $810.4 million, down 19% and the lowest since February. For January through July, beef exports trailed last year’s record pace by 11% in volume (772,343 mt) and 19% in value ($5.81 billion). 

"It’s definitely a challenging environment on the beef side, due in part to limited supplies but also persistent headwinds in our key Asian markets,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Though it’s taking longer than anticipated, we still expect a broader foodservice rebound in Asia. And some bright spots for U.S. beef include sustained demand in Taiwan, especially for alternative beef cuts, and the continued momentum in Mexico. It’s also encouraging to see per-head export value maintaining a high level. This is an important metric for gauging the returns delivered by the international markets, even when our production is trending lower".

July beef exports climb to Mexico and Taiwan but most markets trend lower

Beef exports to Mexico continued to gain momentum in July, climbing 31% from a year ago to 17,663 mt. Export value soared 55% in July, reaching $105.1 million. Through the first seven months of the year, exports to Mexico increased 17% to 117,834 mt, valued at $662.6 million (up 24%). Mexico is the leading volume destination for beef variety meat, and those exports have increased at a similar pace – up 18% in volume (61,762 mt) and 24% in value ($175.2 million).

After a slow start in 2023, beef exports to Taiwan have exceeded year-ago levels in three consecutive months. July exports to Taiwan climbed 15% to 5,298 mt, while value increased 2% to $52.2 million. Through July, exports to Taiwan remained 7% below last year’s record pace at 39,090 mt, valued at $379.8 million (down 23%). 

Beef exports to Canada posted another strong month in July, with shipments climbing 12% from a year ago to 9,969 mt, valued at $87.2 million (up 17%). January-July exports to Canada increased 2% in both volume (61,933 mt) and value ($504.8 million). 

Other January-July export results for U.S. beef include: 

  • Beef exports to leading market South Korea slumped in July, down 24% from a year ago and the lowest volume since June 2020. Export value was $155.1 million, down 22% and the lowest since February. In addition to inflationary pressure affecting Korean consumers, transportation and economic activity was significantly impacted by heavy rain and flooding in some areas of Korea in mid-July (and again in early August). For January through July, exports to Korea totaled 151,095 mt, down 13% from last year’s record pace, valued at $1.24 billion (down 28%). On a positive note, beef variety meat exports to Korea have increased sharply this year in both volume (8,818 mt, up 65%) and value ($47.7 million, up 72%). 
  • July beef exports to Japan also declined significantly, down 37% from a year ago to 19,350, valued at $150.3 million, down 35%. For January through July, exports were down 20% to 148,394 mt, valued at $1.07 billion (down 28%). While Japan remains the leading value market for U.S. beef variety meat (primarily tongues and skirts), January-July exports fell 22% to 26,123 mt, valued at $253.6 million (down 25%).   
  • Beef exports to China were also down significantly from last year’s record pace, with January-July shipments falling 20% to 114,967 mt, valued at $964.2 million (down 25%). But with a post-COVID return in business travel and tourism, exports to neighboring Hong Kong have rebounded this year, increasing 23% to 22,906 mt, valued at $233.8 million (up 5%). 
  • Led by growth in Cote D’Ivoire, July beef exports to Africa increased 25% from a year ago to 1,435 mt, though export value trended lower ($1.6 million, down 16%). Through July, exports to Africa – which are almost entirely beef variety meat – increased 67% to 14,199 mt, with value up 29% to $16.1 million. Exports trended higher to South Africa and Cote D’Ivoire. 
  • Beef exports to the Dominican Republic increased slightly in July to 750 mt, valued at $8.4 million. January-July exports to the DR were 5% above last year’s record pace at 5,644 mt, valued at $61.4 million (up 9%). Similar to pork, the DR recently granted access to beef imported from some regions of Brazil. To date, following announced plant approvals, only small volumes of Brazilian beef offal have been reported. This change will heighten competition in the DR, but U.S. beef enjoys duty-free access while Brazilian beef will be subject to a 20% tariff. 
  • While beef exports to Central America have trended lower in 2023, Honduras has decidedly bucked this trend. July shipments to Honduras totaled 226 mt, up from just 95 mt last year, while export value nearly doubled to $1.2 million. January-July exports to Honduras increased 23% to 1,752 mt, while value climbed 40% to $9 million – a record pace for both volume and value. 
  • Beef exports to Peru jumped 83% from a year ago in July, reaching 1,082 mt, while value increased 78% to $3.7 million. Exports through July were up 38% to 4,495 mt, making Peru this year’s largest South American destination for U.S. beef, with about three-fourths of the volume being variety meat. Export value increased 15% to $19.3 million. 
  • July beef export value equated to $403.63 per head of fed slaughter, down 15% from a year ago. The January-July average was $395.65, down 17%. Exports accounted for 14.2% of total July beef production and 11.8% for muscle cuts only, down significantly from the very high ratios (16.4% and 14.1%, respectively) posted a year ago. For January through July, exports accounted for 14.4% of total production and 12.1% for muscle cuts, compared to 15.5% and 13.3%, respectively, last year.   

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