US beef momentum driven by Asian demand

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

US beef has proven very popular in Asia
US beef has proven very popular in Asia

Related tags Beef Lamb Pork

Volume exports of pork and beef rose year-on-year in July despite trade disputes with Mexico and China.

According to data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports benefited from a strong performance in South Korea and strong growth in Japan, Taiwan and Latin America. They grew 12% in volume terms to 116,575 mt, valued at US$722 million – up 16% from a year ago and just slightly below the May 2018 record of $722.1m.

“The worldwide momentum for US beef has rarely been as strong as it is today,”​ said USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom. “To a large degree our mainstay Asian markets are driving this growth, but emerging markets in Asia and in the Western Hemisphere are also displaying a tremendous appetite for US beef and contributing significantly to the surge in export value. From high-end restaurants to convenience stores, US beef is gaining new fans across the globe on a daily basis.”

US beef exports to Japan hit a post-BSE volume high in July, reaching 31,883 mt (up 15% from a year ago) valued at $196.3m (up 12%).

Beef export growth to Korea continued in July, with volumes up 51% from a year ago to 23,614 mt and value rising 66% to $169.2m.

Pork exports for the month were up 1.5% year-on-year, although down 5% in value terms. The US exported $465.3m of pork during July, the lowest monthly value since February 2016.

“It is encouraging to see pork export volumes continue to grow, even in the face of considerable headwinds in some of our most critical markets​,​ said Halstrom. “But as anticipated, the 20% duty in Mexico and 62% duty in China weigh heavily on the price these exports can command and on the returns generated for producers and for everyone in the US supply chain. Buyers outside Mexico and China have stepped up to purchase our product, which is fantastic. But they are capitalising on a buying opportunity made possible by the higher costs of doing business in Mexico and China.”

Japan was the leading value destination for US pork, with exports totalling 248 mt in July, up 10% from a year ago, while value climbed 6% to $127.2m.

Pork exports to Korea were up 44% from a year ago in volume (148,233 mt) and 50% in value terms ($424.3m).

USMEF also reported that lamb exports continued to rebound from last year’s low totals as July volume jumped 104% from a year ago to 1,209 mt and value increased 46% to $2.17m. Much of this growth was attributable to stronger lamb variety meat demand in Mexico, while muscle cut exports trended higher to the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, the ASEAN region and Taiwan.

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