US meat exports imbalanced

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Friday, November 16, 2012

US beef exports in September were well below the comparable year-ago period, while lamb exports remained steady, according to the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). However, beef exports through the third quarter of 2012 remain ahead of record-setting pace of 2011.

Despite sluggish volumes, September beef exports to Japan were 2% higher compared to 2011 at 12,487 t. The value of beef exports to Japan surged nearly 25% to $86.6 mill. USMEF said the trend was consistent with the January-September performance in which exports were steady in volume at 121,207 t but 23% higher in value at $806.1 mill.

Japan now ranks second in beef export value to Canada, where January-September exports declined 13% in volume to 125,625 t but still gained 5% in value at $829.7 mill.

Mexico continues as the leading volume market for US beef, but exports to Mexico have struggled in 2012 on a weak peso and sluggish economy. Through September, exports to Mexico were 21% lower than in 2011 in volume (151,767 t) and 12% lower in value ($642.6 mill.), according to USMEF calculations.

Beef exports to Russia are on pace for another record year due to an expanded tariff-rate quota that has boosted demand. January-September exports advanced 8% in volume to 61,923 t and 24% in value at $242 mill. over the same period in 2011.

Though US beef still lacks access to mainland China, export growth to Hong Kong were strong. Beef exports to Hong Kong climbed 14% in volume through September at 43,038 t, and increased 32% in value to $224 mill.

Led by remarkable growth in Chile and solid performances in Peru and Guatemala, January-September exports to Central and South America advanced 36% in volume (26,186 t) and were 73% higher in value ($99.2 mill.). Exports to the region already have exceeded last year's full calendar year records of 25,823 t and $85.5 mill. in value.

US lamb exports, which have been pressured in by a poor economic environment in 2012, retreated 6% in volume in September to 1,336 t. However, lamb exports were roughly steady in value at $2.3 mill. For January through September, exports declined 30% in volume to 10,050 t and 16% in value to $19.6 mill. The USMEF board of directors recently adopted a resolution urging the US government to make access for US lamb a higher priority in trade negotiations. US lamb still lacks access to many key global markets.
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