Red meat exports have mixed first quarter

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, market access issues took a toll on U.S. beef exports to Taiwan (down 18% in volume to 5,554 metric tons and 11% in value to $35.1 million), where controversy over ractopamine residue testing has made for a very unsteady business climate. Drastically lower import quotas have lowered U.S. beef exports to Indonesia, where volume (601 metric tons) was down 86% and value ($2.4 million) was down more than 60%. (Though not reflected in these results, Indonesia also imposed new market access restrictions as a result of the BSE case announced April 24.) Year-over-year exports were also lower for Korea, but this was largely due to a surge in export activity in early 2011. First-quarter performance in Korea was fairly consistent with the second half of 2011. U.S. beef has also continued to gain market share in Korea this year, as Australia’s exports have declined by 37%.

“Despite a decline in export volume, prospects for U.S. beef remain positive across the globe,” Seng said. “We are, for the most part, encouraged by the response to the recent BSE case. Nearly every trading partner followed established science and did not alter our level of market access. We remain hopeful that Japan will open to a wider range of products later this year and that access issues in other Asian markets will also be addressed. Consumer demand for U.S. beef is solid, but we need to eliminate trade barriers and maintain an active presence in these markets in the face of aggressive competition if we want to keep export value strong and get back to the record volume pace established in 2011.”

Lower lamb exports to the Caribbean and a sluggish market for variety meat held back the first quarter performance of U.S. lamb. Export volume was down 18% to 3,295 metric tons, while value increased slightly to $6.4 million. Led by strong exports to Canada, lamb muscle cuts achieved a 12% increase in value ($4.4 million) despite a 9% decline in volume (1,484 metric tons).

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