Although beef exports linger behind last year’s record pace, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) last week, export value in August was the second highest for the year at $486.2 million.

For January through August, beef exports accounted for 9.8% of muscle cut production and 12.7% when including variety meat. That’s down from last year’s ratios of 11% and 14.2%, respectively. Keep in mind that export value per head of fed slaughter during that time was about 6% higher than last year at $212.05 per head.

 “We face a challenging business climate in several key markets, with rising production costs and slowing economic growth creating some anxiety among buyers,” explains Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “We’re also seeing a surge in domestic meat supplies in some areas, particularly in South Korea. But the commitment to enhancing global demand for U.S. beef and pork remains very strong, as evidenced by the terrific support of our producer organizations. These are the circumstances in which effective global marketing takes on an even greater level of importance, as producers need to maximize the value of every cut and every carcass.”

Last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its October World Economic Outlook (WEO), reduced its estimates of global economic growth for the remainder of this year and for 2013.

“...The global economy has deteriorated further since the release of the July 2012 WEO update, and growth projections have been marked down,” say IMF analysts in the report. “Downside risks are now judged to be more elevated than in the April 2012 and September 2011 WEO reports. A key issue is whether the global economy is just hitting another bout of turbulence in what was always expected to be a slow and bumpy recovery or whether the current slowdown has a more lasting component…”
 
“While the timeline is uncertain, we remain hopeful that a broader supply of U.S. beef will soon be eligible for Japan,” Seng says. “This is more critical than ever as demand for U.S. beef is extremely strong. In addition to the traditional forequarter cuts and short plates, and other items such as beef tongue, our key buyers in Japan have a growing interest in middle meats and very high-end cuts. Demand for Prime and higher-level Choice cuts is very promising”