U.S. beef exports set a new annual record in October. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) says the value of beef exports in October was $452 million, for a new annual record of $4.49 billion. That's 37% more than the then-record pace established in the first 10 months of 2010. Pork exports are also on record pace.

"Establishing new annual value records just 10 months into the year is an extraordinary accomplishment, and one the U.S. pork and beef industries should be very proud of," says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "Sustaining an aggressive export pace is critical for maintaining and creating American jobs and a positive balance of trade."

The per-head value of beef exports in October equated to nearly $210/head of fed-cattle slaughter, increasing the annual average to $202.82/head.

Despite being down slightly in October, Mexico remains this year's leading volume destination for U.S. beef – up 6% over the first 10 months of 2010. Mexico was the export-value leader in October at $85.3 million, pushing the 2011 total 25% higher than last year at $818.2 million.

Canada held its position as the top value market for U.S. beef in the first 10 months of 2011 at $861.9 million (a new annual record), up 46% over the 2010 pace. Volume for the year is up nearly 30%, also a new record.

Japan is the third-largest individual market in terms of both volume (133,870 metric tons) and value ($726.9 million). These totals exceed last year’s pace by 30% and 38%, respectively, say the folks at USMEF.

Benefits from strong international markets express themselves in a number of ways.

"Since late 2009, the steer byproduct value has consistently averaged above the prior year, reaching record high-levels in 2011," say Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) analysts. "In 2011, the byproduct value averaged just over $13/cwt. on a live steer basis, a 20% plus increase over 2010. In April, and again in June, the steer byproduct value posted a record value of $13.69/cwt., compared to $10-$11/cwt. during the same months in 2010. During the latter half of 2011, the byproduct value softened due to declining oil and feedstuff prices as well as global economic headwinds."

Among all byproducts, LMIC analysts explain the hide accounts for about half the total dollar value, followed by inedible and edible tallow.

"Overseas markets drive the byproduct value as foreign consumers have a stronger demand and place a greater value on non-meat items than U.S. consumers," LMIC analysts say. "So, increased economic uncertainty in Asia and Europe during late 2011 dampened prices of many non-meat items.

"Since 2010, byproducts of a steer account for about $12/cwt., or $160/head of a live steer, compared to a prior five-year average of about $9/cwt. For cows, that number is slightly smaller at $121/head."