… Beef… First quarter exports increased 6%...



Beef Export Value Sets Another Record


Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)

May 5, 2022 


U.S. beef exports soared to another new value record in March, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). March pork exports were the largest so far this year but well below the record-large totals posted in March 2021. Lamb exports continued to gain momentum in March, reaching the third largest monthly volume on record and the highest value in nearly eight years.


Beef exports totaled 126,285 metric tons (mt) in March, up 1% from a year ago and the third largest on record, while value climbed 33% to a record $1.07 billion. First quarter exports increased 6% to 353,852 mt, valued at just over $3 billion (up 41%).


“Global demand for U.S. beef has eclipsed anything I have seen in many years in the meat business,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While this momentum is fueled by mainstay markets such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, demand is also very strong in China/Hong Kong and key Latin American markets, while exports to the Middle East have rebounded impressively.”


Halstrom cautioned that first quarter results do not fully reflect the impact of recent COVID-19 lockdowns in China that have slowed product movement and forced many restaurants to suspend or limit service. These obstacles are likely to have a greater impact on April and May export data. He also noted that while beef demand has been very resilient, inflation represents a potential headwind.


“Consumers throughout the world have shown how much they value the quality of U.S. beef, but disposable income is under increasing pressure as they pay more for energy and other daily needs,” he said.


Korea emerges as top destination for U.S. beef, but Q1 growth broad-based


March beef exports to leading market South Korea totaled 26,834 mt, up 11% from a year ago, valued at $278.3 million – up 58% and the second highest on record, trailing only the record total ($316.4 million) posted in January.


First quarter exports to Korea were 75,445 mt, up 9% from a year ago, while export value climbed 57% to $792.6 million. Export growth to Korea has been largely driven by soaring retail demand, but the foodservice climate received a boost in April as Korea removed all COVID-related limits on restaurant operating hours and lifted most social distancing restrictions on consumers.


Following a similar course, Japan recently lifted the COVID quasi-state of emergency that was in place in 18 of the country’s 47 prefectures. March beef exports to Japan were 25,690 mt, down 10% from a year ago, but value still increased 17% to $212.6 million. First quarter exports to Japan climbed 22% in value to $594.2 million, despite a 4% decline in volume (72,179 mt).


China has taken a decidedly different approach to COVID outbreaks, recently imposing lockdowns in several large population centers. These policies have made it difficult for U.S. exporters to supply beef and pork to China and slowed demand from confined consumers. However, these developments will likely have a more significant impact on second quarter export results. COVID restrictions also slowed demand in Hong Kong, where the mandatory closing time for restaurants was only recently extended from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and the per-table limit was raised from two people to four.


With direct exports to China setting a new record, March beef exports to China/Hong Kong reached 22,745 mt, up 11% from a year ago, valued at $207.7 million (up 26%). This pushed first quarter export volume to 62,237 mt, up 36% year-over-year, while value climbed 59% to $582.4 million.


Other first quarter results for U.S. beef exports include:


·         Exports to Taiwan raced to a fast start in 2022, climbing 47% from a year ago to 18,243 mt, while export value nearly doubled to $227.2 million (up 92%). The U.S. continues to dominate Taiwan’s chilled beef market, capturing 80% market share. Taiwan has seen surging COVID cases in April and early May but is not imposing lockdowns.

·         After a record year in 2021, demand in Central America continues to trend higher, led by excellent growth in Guatemala, Panama, and Honduras. First quarter exports to the region increased 14% to 5,950 mt, valued at $42 million (up 38%).

·         With foodservice demand rebounding in the Caribbean, exports increased 41% to 6,337 mt, with value more than doubling to $56.8 million (up 109%). Growth was led by the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

·         Beef exports to the Middle East continue to rebound, led by stronger variety meat demand in Egypt and muscle cut growth in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. March exports to Qatar were the highest since 2011 and exports to Bahrain were the third largest on record. First quarter exports to the region increased 13% to 18,490 mt, valued at $74.8 million (up 38%).

·         While first quarter exports of beef variety meat edged modestly higher in volume (353,852 mt, up 3%), these items commanded sharply higher prices as export value climbed 34% to just over $300 million. In addition to Egypt, export value increased impressively to Japan, China and the Caribbean.

·         March beef export value equated to $472.73 per head of fed slaughter, up 36% from a year ago. The first quarter average was $474.10 per head, up 41%. Exports accounted for 14.7% of total March beef production, up from 14.5% a year ago, while the ratio for muscle cuts was steady at 12.7%. First quarter exports also accounted for 14.7% of total production and 12.7% for muscle cuts, up from 14.1% and 11.9%, respectively.


Pork export surge to Mexico continues; DR and Honduras also strong in March …


Caribbean rebound, Mexico growth bolster March lamb exports …


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