While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume (77,027 metric tons or 169.8 million lbs.) and value ($246.9 million) but these totals are down by 25% and 27%, respectively, compared with the first four months of 2009.

Despite dramatic gains in many overseas markets, Canada remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. beef. Beef/beef variety meat exports to Canada are up 13% in volume (45,563 metric tons or 100.5 million lbs.) and 17% in value ($199.4 million) compared with January-April 2009. In fact, April export value to Canada ($59.9 million) pulled within just 4% of Mexico ($62.2 million).

U.S. beef exports to Asia continued to grow at a torrid pace in April. Japan is the leading Asian market in 2010 in both volume (26,740 metric tons or 58.9 million lbs.) and value ($141.8 million). Both represent an increase of 34% over January-April 2009. But South Korea is right on Japan’s heels, with a volume of 26,321 metric tons (58 million lbs.) valued at $112.3 million – increases of 39% and 58%, respectively, over last year.

The ASEAN region also performed very well in April, up by 14% for the year in volume (29,589 metric tons or 65.2 million lbs.) and 16% in value ($97.9 million). Interestingly, this increase was achieved despite fairly flat results in Vietnam – by far the largest ASEAN market. The primary growth drivers were the Philippines and Indonesia, the No. 2 and No. 3 markets in the region.

Taiwan appears to have shaken off any lingering controversy over the recent reintroduction of U.S. bone-in beef, and may be headed for another record performance in 2010. Exports to Taiwan were up 69% in volume (11,533 metric tons or 25.4 million lbs.) and 79% in value ($60 million).

Hong Kong has also achieved rapid growth this year, nearly tripling its imports of U.S. beef in terms of both volume (9,099 metric tons or 20.1 million lbs.) and value ($35.6 million).

Impressive growth numbers aren't limited to Asia, however. Exports to the Middle East continued their strong run, increasing 24% in volume and 45% in value over January-April 2009. Led by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, a growing percentage of U.S. beef exports to the Middle East are muscle cuts. But beef variety meat exports are showing signs of a strong price recovery in the region, as they were up only slightly in volume but up by nearly 25% in value through April.

Russia has also expanded its purchases of U.S. beef to include a much higher percentage of muscle cuts, From January to April, exports to Russia were up 173% in volume (19,525 metric tons or 43 million lbs.) but an even more remarkable 613% in value ($47.5 million) over 2009.

In contrast to the downturn in Mexico, exports are performing very well in other Western Hemisphere markets. Beef/beef variety meat exports to the Dominican Republic were up more than 60% in volume and value, while Jamaica was up more than 30%. Exports to Central/South America were up by 47% in volume and 54% in value, with variety meat exports to Peru and Colombia accounting for much of the growth.
-- USMEF release