Beef exports continued an upward trend in October, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Beef markets in Japan, Hong Kong and Mexico are booming. Overall, October U.S. beef exports reached 107,471 metric tons valued at $564.5 million, increases of 6 and nearly 14%, respectively.
Though exports are looking strong for the beef sector, USMEF President Philip Seng said legislative issues may hinder market promotion in the future – like cuts to the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program.
In addition, the European Commission has proposed more than tripling its spending to support EU agricultural and agri-food sector products.
"There is no question that exports create jobs and support a positive balance of trade," said Seng. "The European Commission sees that link and is looking to put significantly more resources into their export initiative, so we can expect to face even heavier competition in the top value markets going forward."
More Beef highlights
Increased exports to leading markets Japan and Mexico – along with sharp increases in sales to Hong Kong – continue to drive U.S. beef sales to higher levels, USMEF said. Exports for the year are expected to easily top 2012's record value of $5.51 billion.
Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $251.06 in October, up $29 from last year. Exports accounted for 11% of muscle cuts and 13.5% of total beef exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) for the month, up from 10 and 12.6%, respectively, last year.
Top markets include Japan (up 40% in volume), Mexico (up 53% in volume), South Korea, and Central/South America.
Exports to Hong Kong were up a whopping 148% in volume and 184% in value.
"Hong Kong is clearly emerging as a major beef market, and USMEF's initiatives there cover retail, food service and trade sectors in this highly competitive and progressive market," said Seng. "We are the second-largest supplier to Hong Kong, trailing only Brazil, but we are continuing to miss out on even larger opportunities in mainland China, where we have not had access since 2003."