Red meat exports boom

Beef exports continued their surge in December, surpassing year-ago totals by nearly 13% in volume and 20% in value led by growth in sales to Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Central/South America. Totals for 2013 were up 3% in volume to 1.17 million metric tons (mt) and 12% in value ($6.157 billion) – breaking the 2012 value record.

The new milestone for U.S. beef export value also meant new records for the average export value per head: an annual record of $244.96 per head of fed slaughter, up $28.23 from 2012 and a new monthly record in December at $279.16, up $36.52 from December 2012.

U.S. beef exports in 2013 equated to 13.2% of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 10.4% of muscle cuts alone, up from 12.7 and 9.8% last year. The totals trended up in December, reaching 14.5% and 12%, respectively.

Beef sales to Japan closed the year up 54% in volume (234,615 mt) and 35% in value ($1.389 billion), pushed by a strong December showing that was more than 75% ahead of last year’s volume totals and 45% higher in value. Value totals for the year were just shy of 2003’s pre-BSE mark of $1.391 billion, although volume was just 62.5% of the 2003 total. Based on Japan’s import data, U.S. market share increased from 26% in 2012 to 36% in 2013, mainly regaining share from Australia.

Beef exports to Hong Kong set a new annual record as volume doubled to 130,017 mt and value increased 142% to $823.3 million. Central/South America also set new milestones with 42,104 mt (up 24%) valued at $156.4 million (up 17%).

Mexico’s one-month beef import total of 24,402 mt (up 69%) was the largest volume to that country since December of 2009, helping push sales to the No. 2 U.S. beef export market to 216,386 mt (up 12%) valued at $925.3 million (up 13%).

U.S. lamb exports closed with double-digit increases in volume and value in December to finish the year up 7% in value ($28.1 million) on 6% lower volume (12,332 mt). Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean continue to be the top lamb export markets.

All three top lamb export markets (Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean) were up in volume and value for December. Mexico closed the year up 2% in value ($14.2 million) on 14% lower volumes (8,654 mt). Canada was up 60% in volume (2,497 mt) and 37% in value ($6 million), while the Caribbean closed down 41% in volume (552 mt) and 14% in value ($4.1 million).

Year-end totals for all markets were up 7% in value ($28.1 million) on 6% lower volumes (12,332 mt).


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