USA, Washington. February exports of US beef were higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
February beef export volume improved 11% from a year ago to 100,593 t, while export value increased 18% to $599.8 mill. Although this was the lowest monthly value total since May 2017, it is the highest on record for the month of February. January-February volume was 206,079 t, up 10% from the first two months of 2017, while export value was 20% above last year’s pace at $1.22 bn.
Exports accounted for 13.6% of total beef production in February, up one full percentage point from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.8% (up from 10.1% last year). Through February, beef exports accounted for 13% of total production (up from 12.4%) and 10.4% for muscle cuts (up from 9.8%). February beef export value averaged $322.29 per head of fed slaughter, up 16% from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value averaged $306.69, up 15%.
Beef export volume to leading market Japan declined in February (20,314 t, –15% year-over-year), as the frozen beef safeguard tariff (50%, up temporarily from 38.5%) contributed to a slowdown in frozen shipments. However, February export value to Japan was down only slightly at $133.4 mill. Through February, total exports to Japan were 4% below last year’s volume pace at 44,282 t, but still increased 9% in value to $282 mill. This included an 18% increase in chilled beef exports to 22,809 t, valued at $175 mill. (up 29%). Japan’s safeguard tariff on imports of frozen beef from the United States (and from other suppliers that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan) expired 31 March, so the tariff rate for both frozen and chilled imports from the US is now 38.5%. Japan’s tariffs on imports of Australian chilled and frozen beef edged slightly lower on 1 April and now stand at 29.3% and 26.9%, respectively, under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
Beef exports to South Korea maintained a torrid pace in February, increasing 24% from a year ago in volume (16,193 t) and 31% in value ($112.4 mill.). Through February, exports to Korea climbed 18% in volume to 33,326 t and were 32% above last year’s record value pace at $234.8 mill. This included chilled beef exports of 7,231 t (up 34% year-over-year) valued at $68 mill. (up 44%). US beef is driving new consumption trends in Korea, where retailers and foodservice operators have intensified their focus on steak cuts and are highlighting features such as dry and wet aging. USMEF continues to educate the Korean meat trade and consumers about the quality and convenience of US steaks in this increasingly protein-centric market.
Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for U.S. beef include:
• Exports to Mexico, which is a critical destination for beef rounds, shoulder clods and variety meat, were 10% above last year’s pace in volume (39,987 t) and 19% higher in value ($175 mill.). This included an 11% increase in variety meat export volume (18,720 t) and an impressive 36% jump in variety meat value ($44.4 mill.).
• Partly driven by demand for the Chinese New Year holiday, exports to Hong Kong jumped 41% in volume (22,807 t) from a year ago and 61% in value ($168.6 mill.). Exports to China, which resumed in June 2017, totaled 1,187 t valued at $11.1 mill.
• In Taiwan, an outstanding destination for chilled US beef, exports increased 25% from a year ago in volume (8,106 t) and 42% in value ($78.2 mill.). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 53% in volume (3,800 t) and 61% in value ($48 mill.) as the US holds 72% of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
• Exceptional growth in Chile and Colombia pushed exports to South America up 68% year-over-year in volume (5,296 t) and 62% in value ($25.2 mill.). Exports to Brazil, which resumed in April of last year, totaled 215 t valued at $2 mill.
• Strong performances in Indonesia and Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 42% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (6,794 t) and 34% higher in value ($36.7 mill.). The region is especially strong for beef variety meat, with exports up 74% in volume (2,008 t) and 93% in value ($4.4 mill.).
• Strong growth in Angola and steady volumes to South Africa pushed beef exports to Africa up 26% year-over-year in volume (1,981 t) and 77% higher in value ($3.1 mill.).