U.S. beef exports increased by double digits in volume and by an even healthier margin in value in April, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Higher prices commanded in the global market have driven up per-head export values for U.S. beef as international customers have, so far, been willing to pay higher prices for larger volumes, USMEF says.
The U.S. exported 99,297 mt of beef in April valued at $537.4 million, increases of 15% and 24%, respectively. Year-to-date, beef exports are up 10% in volume and 17% in value to 376,377 mt valued at $2.05 billion.
Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, said even with large volumes of Australian beef on the market, demand for exports is growing or staying steady.
"It is encouraging to see solid growth in sales to markets where the U.S. industry has made the biggest commitment in resources. A good example would be Korea, where export volumes have struggled since 2012 but, as Korea's domestic supply levels of beef and pork normalize, we are seeing a robust rebound in demand for U.S. products," he said.
Beef exports in April accounted for 14% of total U.S. beef production and 11% of muscle cuts alone, increases from 12% and 9%, respectively, last April.
Export value per head of fed slaughter equated to $262.41 for the month, up from $207.70 a year ago. Strong beef exports to Asia helped support near-record prices for short plates, short ribs and chuck short ribs.
In Mexico, volume was up 16% to 18,668 mt valued at $86 million, a 31% increase over April of 2013, although off March highs, contributed to sustained high prices for U.S. rounds and shoulder clods.
Japan was the top destination for U.S. beef in April, taking 20,614 mt – down 4% but valued at $130.6 million.
Hong Kong and South Korea both reported higher volumes – up 99% and 27%, respectively. Values were up 133% and 53% for the two countries.
Volume was up 11% to 3,915 mt and value up 40% to $16 million in Central and South American, paced by Chile, up 52% in volume to 1,449 mt and 50% in value to $7.3 million.