USA, Washington. US beef exports set a new value record in May while also increasing significantly year-over-year in volume, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef export volume was 117,871 t in May, the sixth-largest on record, valued at a remarkable $722.1 mill., which surpassed the previous monthly high (March 2018) by a healthy 4% and was 24% higher than a year ago. Through the first five months of 2018, beef exports were up 10% in volume to 547,157 t while export value was $3.32 bn., 21% above last year’s record pace.
Exports accounted for 13.6% of total beef production in May, up from 13% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.1%, up from 10% last year. For January through May, exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production and 10.9% for muscle cuts – up from 12.8% and 10%, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $313.39 per head of fed slaughter in May, up 18% from a year ago. The January-May average was $317.69 per head, also up 18%.
Japan and South Korea continue to be the pacesetters for U.S. beef export growth. In May, export volume to Japan totaled 30,117 t (up 19% from a year ago) valued at $196.8 mill. (up 22% and the highest since August 2017). Through May, exports to Japan were up 4% from a year ago in volume at 128,207 t while value increased 13% to $822.9 mill. This included a 6% increase in chilled beef volume to 61,178 t, valued at $488 million (up 18%).
May exports to Korea were up 46% from a year ago in volume (20,781 t) and jumped 64% in value to a record $146.2 mill. For January through May, exports to Korea climbed 34% to 91,875 t, valued at $647.3 mill. – 49% above last year’s record pace. Chilled beef exports to Korea totaled 20,365 t (up 30%) valued at $196 mill. (up 41%).
For January through May, other highlights for US beef include:
- In Mexico, exports were up 4% in volume (98,900 t) and 13% higher in value ($427.9 mill). Mexico is a critical market for U.S. rounds, shoulder clods and other muscle cuts which are typically undervalued in the U.S. market. It is also the leading destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which increased 15% from a year ago in value ($98.9 mill.) despite a 2% decline in volume (43,479 t).
- Exports to China/Hong Kong increased 20% in volume (57,186 t) and 47% in value to $442.2 mill. May exports to China were the largest (834 t) since the market opened in June of last year, pushing the January-May total to 3,133 t valued at $28.7 mill. However, effective July 6, China’s import duty rate on U.S. beef increased from 12% to 37%. The higher tariff will make it difficult for end-users to profitably utilize U.S. beef, especially with U.S. beef already priced at a premium compared to imports from other suppliers and with Australian beef subject to a duty of just 7.2% through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
- Coming off a record performance in 2017, beef exports to Taiwan continue to gain momentum. Exports were up 31% from a year ago in volume (22,127 t) and 43% higher in value ($209.9 mill.). Chilled exports increased 39% in volume (9,272 t) and 52% in value ($116 mill.), as U.S. beef captured 74% of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
- More reliable access to Indonesia has helped bolster beef exports to this promising market, with volume increasing 52% from a year ago to 6,247 t and value nearly doubling to $28.7 mill. Due in part to the United States successfully challenging Indonesia’s import restrictions at the World Trade Organization, U.S. beef now faces fewer obstacles and a more consistent regulatory environment. Indonesia’s strong performance and solid growth in the Philippines helped push exports to the ASEAN region 17% higher in volume (18,472 t) and 28% higher in value ($102.4 mill).
- Led by strong growth in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama, exports to Central America jumped 21% in volume (5,436 t) from a year ago and 22% in value ($30.6 mill.).