Despite being well below last year's results in Mexico - the No. 1 export market for U.S. beef - and remaining relatively flat in No. 2 market Canada, beef exports are performing extremely well across the globe. South Korea, Vietnam and Russia posted the largest year-over-year increases in July, but strong growth has also been achieved this year in Japan, the Middle East, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the European Union and the Caribbean, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Exports to Mexico still trail last year's pace by more than 20% in both volume (138,807 metric tons) and value ($450.5 million), but showed signs of strengthening in July as export value ($70.1 million) was just 3.5% below last year's level.

"While Mexico has been very slow to recover from the economic crisis that first took hold two years ago, we are beginning to see some promising signs," said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. "The peso has strengthened modestly in the past few months, and U.S. beef still holds a very strong market share in Mexico. Consumer confidence and buying power also appear to be on the upswing, and recent sales results for U.S. beef reflect that. While we are still a long way from the outstanding results U.S. beef achieved here in 2008, USMEF is continuing to aggressively work with retailers and importers and we are headed in the right direction."

January-July exports to Canada were even with last year in terms of volume at 84,149 metric tons (mt) but up 6% in value at $387.4 million. In every other major market, results are substantially above year-ago levels. Beef highlights include:

  • Exports to Japan are 25% higher in terms of both volume (64,959 mt) and value ($336.2 million.) A USMEF promotion with nearly 13,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan has helped fuel U.S. beef sales there. The "Sumibiyaki Gyu Karubi Bento" promotion is projected to sell 30 million bento (lunch) boxes containing U.S. beef short plate over the coming year.

  • Korea continues to climb the export market rankings with results of 63,189 mt valued at $290.8 million - an increase of 122% and 162%, respectively.

  • Vietnam is still the leading market in the ASEAN region at 31,036 mt valued at $112.5 million - up 6% and 20%, respectively. But more dramatic growth in Indonesia and the Philippines pushed the ASEAN region's results 28% higher in volume (44,657 mt) and 33% higher in value ($145.5 million).

  • Led by strong exports to Egypt, the Middle East was up 31% in volume (69,837 mt) and 56% in value ($77.3 million) as the region shows an increasing appetite for U.S. muscle cuts. Excellent results were also achieved in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

  • Exports to Russia totaled 32,982 metric tons valued at $94.1 million - an increase of 154% in volume and 575% in value, reflecting a surge in muscle cut demand. Muscle cut exports to Russia reached 16,930 mt but will likely slow in the remainder of 2010 as the U.S. share (21,700 mt) of Russia's import quota is nearly filled. However, the higher out-of-quota tariff rates do not apply to variety meat.

  • Taiwan is likely headed for another new value record this year as results reached $109.7 million - up 48% compared with last year's record pace. Volume was up 36% to 20,554 mt.

  • Exports to Hong Kong were up 66% in volume (18,635 mt) and 87% in value ($68.9 million).
"In every corner of the world, U.S. beef has made tremendous strides this year," says USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "And as Mexico begins to show signs of an economic recovery, our product is well-positioned to capitalize because we are still the dominant provider in that market. If we can move Mexico back into the 'plus' column, the global results will be even more impressive."

-- USMEF release