The value of U.S. beef exports in 2008 reached $3.6 billion – or 94 percent of where they stood in 2003, prior to BSE found in the U.S. Exports to all leading markets were up for the year, by 28 percent in volume and 38 percent in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). That means 2009 likely will be the year that the U.S. surpasses the pre-BSE levels in terms ofvalue, though it’s likely to take another year or two to surpass pre-BSE volumes. “Next year, if we have a little luck with Japan, with Korea, we fully expect to eclipse the record export number we had in 2003,” said USMEF President and CEO Phil Seng. “Right now, we estimate that about $135 per head is the premium that you’re getting from the international marketplace today.” Toward a goal of accomplishing beef exports of 3 billion pounds in 2010 – up from 2.8 billion in 2003 – the checkoff is increasing company-specific focus in international markets in 2009; developing new sales channels; intensifying efforts to move value cuts; expanding sales-force training; and focusing on displacing share from competing companies. In related news, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services reports that rising incomes have lead to greater overall meat consumption, with per capita consumption in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, for example, surpassing a combined 64 pounds per person in 2008, up from just over 59 pounds in 2003. As consumer incomes in foreign markets, particularly in emerging market economies, continue to grow, the trend of increasing trade in red meats—and increasing interdependence between U.S. and foreign markets—will likely continue, USDA notes. For related beef industry news, link to My Beef Checkoff.