The pace of U.S. beef and pork exports cooled in January, say statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Muscle cut exports held up fairly well in January, but total exports were held down by a very sluggish market for variety meat.

Beef plus beef variety meat exports were 9% higher in volume and 6% higher in value than in January 2009. Beef muscle cuts fared even better, rising 16% in volume and 15% in value. However, these totals represented a decline from December 2009 and lagged the 2009 monthly average. Beef variety meat exports were down only 4% in volume but plummeted 26% in value compared with January 2009.

Exports are on the rise to Canada, the second-largest market (after Mexico) for U.S. beef. January exports were 11,064 metric tons (24.4 million lbs.) valued at $47.6 million, a 21% volume increase and 29% value increase over January 2009.

Key Asian markets continued to perform well compared with a year ago, including:

  • Japan – 5,602 metric tons (12.4 million lbs.) valued at $27.9 million, an increase of 38% in volume and 28% in value.
  • Taiwan – 3,017 metric tons (6.7 million lbs.) valued at $17.5 million, an increase of 166% in volume and more than triple (+204%) the January 2009 value.
  • Hong Kong – 2,037 metric tons (4.5 million lbs.) valued at $8.4 million, nearly a fivefold increase in both volume (+379%) and value (+378%).
  • South Korea – 7,327 metric tons (16.2 million lbs.) valued at $27.2 million, a 3% increase in volume and a slight decline in value from January 2009. However, it was 67% higher in volume and 56% higher in value than the 2009 monthly average.
Beef exports to the Middle East continued their positive momentum in January, led by strong sales in Egypt and a growing presence in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Exports to the EU are also growing.

The trend for beef exports to Mexico is positive, with January volume up 28% and value up 8% vs. the previous month. While Mexico is still the largest destination for U.S. beef, exports were down 24% in volume and 32% in value compared to January 2009. Mexico’s economy is showing signs of improvement and the peso has reclaimed some of the value it shed last year, but its purchasing power lags below 2008 levels, when U.S. beef exports to Mexico set an all-time record.

The only other major market showing a decline from last year was Vietnam, where beef/beef variety meat exports fell 22% in volume and 29% in value from January 2009. However, weekly export data for February show higher volumes destined for Vietnam.

Complete January 2010 export statistics are available at www.usmef.org.
-- USMEF release