According to USDA data, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) says total U.S. beef and pork exports in terms of volume lagged year-ago levels due to issues with market access, but beef exports to Japan were up sharply as the nation regained its ranking as the No. 1 market for U.S. beef for the first time since 2003.
Beef exports in April to Japan of 21,486 MT were more than double the year-ago tally and year-to-date exports of 59,969 MMT are up nearly 50% from year-ago. USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng says while the boost is encouraging, he cautioned that Japan has a safeguard in place that will increase tariffs if beef import volumes rise too quickly. "This safeguard, which was utilized by Japan in 2003 under similar circumstances, remains an important consideration for U.S. exporters and Japanese importers," notes the group.
April beef export volume of 86,433 MT was down 9% from year-ago and export value was down 7% to $434.8 million. Year-to-date beef exports are 2% higher in terms of value despite a 5% drop in volume. April pork exports of 174,073 MT were down 5% from last year and were valued at $475.1 million, which is down 7% from year-ago. Year-to-date pork exports are down 10% from last year in terms of both volume and value.
The USMEF notes that Russia's suspension of imports of U.S. beef and pork, which officially closed the market Feb. 11, continues to hamper overall performance. "USMEF estimates this trade impasse, which is related to Russia's enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy for beta agonist use, has cost the U.S. industry about $97 million in beef export value and $58 million in pork export value so far in 2013," it states.