Exports of U.S. beef finished 2013 on a strong note, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation, surpassing the $6 billion mark for the first time and setting a new annual value record.
Year-ago beef export totals were eclipsed nearly 13% in volume and 20% in value, led by growth in sales to Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Central/South America, USMEF says, based on USDA figures. Totals for 2013 were up 3% in volume to 1.17 million metric tons and 12% in value at $6.157 billion, breaking the 2012 value record.
"2013 presented a new set of challenges," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "Last year, the closure of the Russian market to U.S. red meat products and our continued absence from the dynamic beef market in the People's Republic of China stand out.
"The industry is focused on these challenges and USMEF is targeting the markets where we have the best chance of succeeding and creating a positive return for American producers and exporters," Seng said.
The new milestone for U.S. beef export value also meant new records for the average export value per head: an annual record of $244.96 per head of fed slaughter, up $28.23 from 2012 and a new monthly record in December at $279.16, up $36.52 from December 2012.
U.S. beef exports in 2013 equated to 13.2% of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 10.4% of muscle cuts alone, up from 12.7 and 9.8% last year. The totals trended up in December, reaching 14.5% and 12%, respectively.
Beef sales to Japan closed the year up 54% in volume and 35% in value, pushed by a strong December showing that was more than 75% ahead of last year's volume totals and 45% higher in value. Value totals for the year were just shy of 2003's pre-BSE mark of $1.391 billion, although volume was just 62.5% of the 2003 total.
Based on Japan's import data, U.S. market share increased from 26% in 2012 to 36% in 2013, mainly regaining share from Australia.
Beef exports to Hong Kong set a new annual record as volume doubled to 130,017 mt and value increased 142% to $823.3 million. Central/South America also set new milestones with 42,104 mt (up 24%) valued at $156.4 million (up 17%).
Mexico's one-month beef import total of 24,402 mt was the largest volume to that country since December of 2009, helping push sales to the No. 2 U.S. beef export market to 216,386 mt valued at $925.3 million.