February beef plus beef variety meat exports increased 4 percent in volume, at 145.8 million pounds, and showed a slight increase in value, at $220.5 million, over February 2008. Beef muscle cut exports increased by 9 percent in volume to 90.3 million pounds and 7 percent in value to $172.9 million, while beef variety meat exports dropped slightly in volume to 55.5 million pounds and declined nearly 17 percent in value to $47.6 million. Year-to-date through February, the latest statistics available, beef muscle cut exports have increased 11 percent in both volume and value over the same period last year, while variety meat exports have declined 11 percent in volume and 20 percent in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the beef checkoff’s contractor for foreign market development.
“Slumping currencies in both Mexico and Canada have been affecting U.S. beef exports to those two markets, but said that situation is starting to improve,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We are also seeing some impact from the declining volume of live cattle imports from those two countries, which is increasing their own domestic beef supplies.”
Increased beef exports to South Korea and Vietnam helped overcome declines in the beef industry’s leading markets of Mexico and Canada.
Beef exports to Korea slumped near the end of 2008, with December results totaling 7.4 million pounds valued at $15.2 million. But the new year has seen a rebound in exports to Korea, with the January-February monthly average now standing at 14.4 million pounds with an average value of $24.9 million. This places Korea third among all destinations for U.S. beef – trailing only Mexico and Canada – in both volume and value.