The U.S. beef industry achieved an important benchmark in July, as the value of beef exports for the first seven months of 2008 surpassed imports for the first time since the discovery of BSE closed most global markets to U.S. beef in December 2003, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation..
Global beef and beef variety meat exports totaled 98,972 metric tons (218.2 million pounds) in July, valued at $363 million – increasing more than 10 percent over the June 2008 total, and reaching 97 percent of the July 2003 export value. These results pushed the total value of exports for January-July 2008 to $1.94 billion - an increase of 37 percent over last year and more than $165 million above the value of beef imports into the United States during the same period. By comparison, U.S. beef exports during the first seven months of 2007 fell nearly $700 million short of imports - which have declined by 16 percent from the same period a year ago.
"Regaining our status as a net value exporter of beef is an important goal of the U.S. beef industry, and a critical component of the Beef Industry Long Range Plan,” Seng said. "These results represent a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, and show that we are certainly headed in the right direction.”
Mexico remains the top destination for U.S. beef, with record-high exports totaling 40,930 metric tons (90.2 million pounds) in July valued at almost $147 million. From January through July, exports to Mexico have increased by 19 percent in volume and 23 percent in value over last year. Beef exports to other top markets during this seven-month period also are running far ahead of last year's pace, including Canada (up 37 percent by volume and 42 percent by value), Japan (up about 70 percent in both volume and value), Taiwan (up 37 percent in volume and 40 percent in value) and Vietnam (up 590 percent in volume and 769 percent in value).
Russia also is emerging as one of the driving forces behind the growth of beef and beef variety meat exports, with a July total of 7,649 metric tons (16.9 million pounds) valued at $17.6 million. This pushes the January-July export totals for Russia to 18,843 metric tons (41.5 million pounds) valued at $42.6 million.
Beef exports to South Korea are beginning to gain traction, totaling 1,617 metric tons (3.5 million pounds) in July, valued at $6.35 million. This is good news for cattle producers, as the Korean market reopening is having a significant impact on short rib prices. At about $2.70 per pound, short ribs are priced about 35 percent higher than a year ago. The chuck cut-out – which also is largely driven by export demand – is priced more than 25 percent higher than at this time last year.
Citing growing strength in Asian markets, USDA boosted its forecast for beef exports last week - raising its outlook for the remainder of 2008 as well as for 2009. Factoring in last week's increase, USDA now forecasts 2008 beef exports to finish 28 percent higher than last year, and to increase by an additional 12 percent in 2009.
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