During a media call at its Strategic Planning Conference in Arlington, Virginia, this week, Jagels said combined exports of beef and pork were approaching $13bn for 2014. He said it had been "a very strong year for US meat exports, despite significant supply challenges and trade barriers that limited our access to key markets".
In the latest export data, released by the USDA and compiled by USMEF, beef exports rose 6% in volume to 100,000 metric tons (mt) and 25% in value to $631.9m in September, compared to the same period last year. Pork increased 7% in value to $513m, despite a 3% decline in volume to 162,125mt during the month.
Philip Seng, chief executive officer and president, said that while there was "a plethora of challenges" on the international market, he felt US exports were well placed to deal with these issues.
He said that while volumes and values for lamb exports were both down during the first nine months of this year, a team from Taiwan had just been to the US, "to look at our lamb infrastructure and risk mitigation measures as far as lamb is concerned". He said he hoped US lamb would again be a factor in the Asian markets.
The US’ performance in Asia for both beef and pork has been strong, considering the high beef prices in the US, a strong dollar and very low European pork prices, according to Joel Haggard, senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region.
"The fact that we have been able to hold steady on our pork exports volume to Asia is quite remarkable. Japan and Korea have increased their imports of cheap European pork; it’s caused our market share to decline but our volumes have stayed steady, which is a pretty remarkable feet."
He said that while beef would not see the higher double digit growth of 2012-13, in terms of Asia’s total beef import bill it should still be up by between 5-10% on an already large base.
"We’re seeing record values for some Asian beef export cuts, going to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and HK," he added. "Price has become the largest beef importer. They are up about 15% on a very large import base. Prices in China are starting to top out, we’re seeing more investment in China in trying to jump start beef production there. It’s very profitable to raise cattle in China if you can obtain them, so we’re starting to see a slowdown on imports, but they are still extremely robust, on a very large base."
He added that if Australia gets access to China for live cattle, as has been rumoured, it "could be a game-changer".
"We see Indonesia as probably having a record import year, if you include live cattle - the live cattle trade out of Australia to Indonesia and Vietnam has accelerated by triple digits this year," said Haggard.
"Taiwan may also reach record import levels for beef. On the pork side, we’re watching the Philippines. They are also likely have record import levels this year."
John Brooks, regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East, spoke about the impact of the Russian ban, but was not optimistic the situation would change in the near future.
"It seems very clear that it would not be realistic to expect any significant change in the overall political situation. We are of course ready if there was to be a change."
He added: "In the meantime we’re redeploying our resources a bit. From now and through next year we have a plan to cover and explore, and in those countries where there is already business going on to enhance that business throughout the whole of the greater Russian region."