Domestic markets have gotten most of the attention in the beef industry the past year and for good reason. International beef trade, while not viewed as a major market weakness, has not been recognized as supporting markets a great deal as well. However, the annual numbers for 2009 and especially the monthly values late in the year suggest that international trade is providing more support for beef markets than may be currently recognized.

Beef exports in 2009 were down less than 1% from 2008, holding much firmer than expected given the global economic recession. By contrast broiler and pork exports were down 2% and 12%, respectively. Pork exports, in particular were severely impacted by both the recession and the H1N1 flu. More importantly for 2010 is the strength in beef exports late in 2009. Monthly exports were up 27% and 25% in November and December compared to year earlier levels. No doubt beefs exports were helped by a weaker dollar late in the year compared to the early part of the year.

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