October was a very strong month for U.S. red meat exports, according to results compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports achieved their second-highest value of the year at $375.3 million (trailing only June's $377.6 million), surpassing the September total by 11% and beating October 2009 by an impressive 37%.

The strong showing in October pushed 2010 beef export value to $3.28 billion, surpassing the January-October 2003 total of $3.26 billion. Beef export value finished 2003 with an all-time, single-year record total of $3.86 billion.

Compared with 2009, beef export value is up by 28%. In terms of volume, beef exports reached 863,046 metric tons (mt) for the year, outpacing 2009 by 16%. This year's ratio of total U.S. production exported is 11.4%, while the value per steer and heifer slaughtered is $147.62. The per-head value in October actually reached $170 – nearly $50 higher than October 2009.

"With two months of results still to come, we anticipate the possibility of setting a new export value record this year," says USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But the long climb back from the BSE setback of 2003 isn’t just about rebuilding our mainstay markets. We've established a presence for U.S. beef in many new and diverse destinations across the globe in order to get back to this level. So now the key is to achieve full restoration of all markets so we can take U.S. beef to even greater heights."

U.S. beef has achieved a significant increase in virtually every major destination except for Mexico this year, and even that market is improving. While exports to Mexico are down for the year, October totals were up 5% in volume (22,194 mt) and 10% in value ($71.9 million) over October 2009.

Exports to Canada are up only slightly in volume this year (123,549 mt) but have surged by 10% in value to $589 million. Japan is up 31% in both volume (103,057 mt) and value ($528.5 million). Korea remains in fourth place but has achieved exceptional growth this year, jumping 125% in volume (90,640 mt) and 168% in value to $422.3 million.

Other markets achieving strong growth in 2010 include Russia, where exports have more than doubled in volume (49,766 mt) and quadrupled in value to $134.3 million. This reflects a nearly 700% surge in muscle cut exports to Russia, valued at $95.3 million. Exports to Taiwan have eclipsed the previous record, reaching 31,522 mt, valued at $172.4 million. This is an increase of 42% in volume and 51% in value over 2009. Exports to Hong Kong are also up sharply this year – 53% in volume (28,735 mt) and 70% in value ($109.2 million).

The Middle East has emerged as a region of tremendous growth for U.S. beef, increasing by 28% in volume (104,732 mt) and 65% in value to $200 million. Like Russia, this sharp increase in value reflects a strong surge in muscle cut demand, though the region remains a top destination for beef variety meat. Exports to the ASEAN region are up 10% in volume (57,321 mt) and 16% in value to $187.4 million, despite a down year for exports to Vietnam. Strong growth in Indonesia and the Philippines has fueled the ASEAN region's solid performance.
-- USMEF release