Beef exports dipped moderately in volume, achieving their largest monthly total of 2012 while holding steady in value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said higher operating costs are challenging the beef sector.
"Tight beef supplies have pushed prices higher and strong demand from our international customers is helping support higher beef cutout values," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "It is absolutely critical that we remain aggressive with our international promotions and continue to capture the highest return possible on the products we export," Seng said.
While July beef export volume (108,971 metric tons) was 9.5% lower than a year ago, it was the largest monthly volume of 2012 and up 16% from June. Export value in July ($513.5 million) was slightly higher than a year ago and up 11% from June. Year-to-date exports through July remained 11% below the record pace of 2011 in volume (659,433 mt) but increased 4% in value to $3.17 billion.
July beef exports equated to 11% of production for muscle cuts and 14.3% when including variety meat. The respective ratios for January through July were 9.8% and 12.8%. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter totaled $235.18 in July – down less than 1% from the record set in July 2011. For January through July, per-head export value averaged $212.73 – topping last year's pace by 7%.
Several key beef exports markets posted increases in value for January through July despite lower volumes, including: Canada (-12 in volume to 97,326 mt, +7% in value to $639.3 million), the Middle East (-5% to 91,348 mt, +8% to $201.5 million), Japan (-3% to 91,132 mt, +19% to $600.2 million) and the ASEAN region (-6% to 38,502 mt, +14% to $160 million).
Markets posting increases in both volume and value included Russia (+7% to 44,461 mt and +38% to $184.7 million) and Central and South America (+35% to 20,458 mt and +79% to $76.1 million). Exports to Hong Kong were steady in volume at 29,776 mt and up 22% in value at $161.7 million.
A weak peso continued to create a tough business climate for U.S. beef in Mexico, which remained the largest volume destination (122,056 mt) but slipped to third in value (behind Canada and Japan) at $518.3 million. A weak economy and large domestic supplies hurt exports to Korea, which were 22% lower in volume (76,559 mt) through July and down 18% in value ($353.6 million). Exports to Taiwan have been hit hard by regulatory restrictions – down 65% in volume (6,755 mt) and 58% in value ($43.4 million). However, Taiwan's recent establishment of a maximum residue level for ractopamine is expected to create a more favorable business climate for the remainder of this year.
Complete statistics can be found here.