090223 Beef Board: U.S. Beef Export Success Continues

February 19, 2009

The international marketplace continued to roll out the red carpet for U.S. beef products in 2008, recording double-digit increases over 2007 levels, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Total U.S. beef exports registered gains nearly 11 percent in volume and more than 16 percent in value in December versus one year ago. For the calendar year, export volumes rose 28 percent to nearly 2.2 billion pounds, while values jumped 38 percent to $3.6 billion.

"We have been investing our checkoff dollars and working very hard to fully recover our export markets since many closed to us at the end of 2003," says Cattlemen's Beef Board member Robert Fountain, Jr., an Adrian, Ga., cow-calf producer and member of the Joint International Markets Committee. "And while there are ups and downs on a country-by- country basis, the key export markets for U.S. beef are performing fairly consistently.

"The international marketplace clearly offers the U.S. beef producer the greatest potential for demand growth," Fountain adds. "And our beef checkoff – often leveraged with funding from other sources, including USDA foreign market development programs – is helping us increase consumer confidence in U.S. beef around the globe."

Beef export facts:

Nearly 12 percent of U.S. beef production (including variety meat) in 2008 was exported. This compares to 8 percent in 2007 and 13 percent in 2003.

The value of exports per head slaughtered equated to $133.84 compared to $95.21 in 2007 and $136.46 in 2003 (using steer and heifer slaughter).

The 2008 beef and variety meat exports equated to 94 percent of 2003 export value and 77 percent of 2003 export volume.

Exports by market:

Mexico – December exports rebounded to 69.6 million pounds, up 8 percent from 2007 and 24 percent from the previous month. Year-end exports were up 10 percent to 873.2 million pounds and up 18 percent in value to nearly $1.4 billion.

Canada – the second-largest destination for U.S. beef took 23.9 million pounds in December, consistent with the previous two months and the first quarter of 2008, but well below the large volumes seen in the second and third quarters of 2008. December exports were down 15 percent compared to December 2007. Year-end exports were up 17 percent totaling 341.3 million pounds valued at $715.6 million, up 19 percent.

Japan – December exports totaled 9.2 million pounds, up 29 percent compared to last year, putting the year-end total up 59 percent to 163.4 million pounds, valued at $382.5 million, up 57 percent. For the year, export volume was equivalent to 20 percent of 2003 while 27.5 percent of 2003 export value was recovered.

South Korea – December exports were 7.4 million pounds, the lowest monthly volume since the market reopened in July. Exports for the year totaled 126.3 million pounds, up 128 percent compared to 2007 when the market was open intermittently from May through October. 2008 exports were valued at $294.4 million, making Korea the fourth- largest market for U.S. beef with the market open for less than half the year. In addition to a slow resumption of U.S. beef sales, the global economic crisis has had an impact. For example, the Korean won has depreciated since the market opened in July last year— meaning it takes 36 percent more Korean won to buy $1 worth of U.S. beef than it did in July. At the same time, it takes about 8 percent fewer Korean won to buy Australian beef, which helps explain the increase in Korean imports of Australian beef in December.

Russia – exports here declined dramatically and consisted almost entirely of variety meat during November and December after unprecedented exports of muscle cuts during the summer months. Exports during December totaled only 1.9 million pounds, but for the year exports were 101.8 million pounds with muscle cuts accounting for 34.5 million pounds of the total.

Complete export statistics for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are in the statistics section of www.USMEF.org. The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded in part by USDA and the Beef Checkoff Program.