The U.S. beef sector finished 2008 strong with excellent December export performance, reports USDA’s Foreign Ag Service.

  • Beef exports totaled 98.6 million lbs., 15.6% higher than in December 2007, with Mexico and Canada the leading destinations for those exports. Shipments to Korea amounted to 7 million lbs., down from its monthly high of 36.7 million lbs. in July. The value of December beef exports was 18.1% higher than in 2007.
  • In all, 2008 beef exports finished 34.8% higher than one year ago and back to within 450 million lbs. of the pre-BSE levels of 2003. Mexico was the largest customer for U.S. beef at just under 500 million lbs., 11% higher than last year; Canada was the second largest customer for U.S. beef. The big growth markets in percentage terms were Japan and Korea, primarily because of the very low level of exports there in 2007.
  • 2008 beef export value was 40.3% higher than last year, indicating an improvement in export pricing. Beef variety meat exports ended the year 16.5% higher with Mexico remaining far and away our largest variety meat customer.

The U.S. totaled $3.62 billion in beef, beef variety meat, and processed beef-product exports in 2008. The top 10 destinations included: Mexico ($1.399 billion), Canada ($716 million), Japan ($383 million), Korea ($294 million), Vietnam ($131 million), Taiwan ($128 million), European Union-27 ($111 million), Egypt ($93 million), Russia ($90 million), and the Caribbean ($79 million).

Of the top 10, every country other than Japan and Korea imported a new record-level of U.S. beef and beef products in 2008. The top 10 countries account for 95% of total U.S. beef export dollars, with Mexico and Canada accounting for 58% of the total.