Beef exports continued the strong performance of 2013, with January volume increasing 13% and value increasing 16%. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) this week, the increases were bolstered by double-digit growth to Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong.

Exports accounted for 13% of total beef production in January, and 10% of muscle cuts alone. The export value per head of fed slaughter was $219.73, up $14.79 from last year.

Nevil Speer of Western Kentucky University notes in this week’s “Industry at a Glance” chart on beefmagazine.com that last year export value established a new record for the industry – exceeding $6 billion, which garnered an additional $626 million of revenue for U.S. beef producers.

“A total of $6 billion spread across every fed steer and heifer marketed in the U.S. is the equivalent of adding more than $22/cwt. to the fed market, or roughly $280/head,” Speer explains. “Ultimately, that value gets passed back up the supply chain to the calf and yearling markets. Therefore, all producers benefit from vibrant export activity.”

Speer says the most probable risks to growing beef exports this year include the increasing value of the U.S. dollar, as well as trade tensions with trading partners fostered by U.S. policies and laws like mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.

Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, also noted this week that with U.S. beef production expected to drop 5% this year, and already running below last year’s levels, it will be challenging to maintain export levels.
 

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