October beef exports down from last year

Beef hanging on USDA inspection line.

U.S. beef export value reached another new high in November, topping $1 billion for the second time in 2021, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). 

November beef exports totaled 123,641 metric tons (mt), up 7 percent from a year ago and the fourth largest monthly volume in the post bovine spongiform encephalopathy era. Export value was a record $1.05 billion, up 49 percent year over year and exceeding the previous high set in August 2021. For January through November, beef exports were on a record volume pace at 1.32 million mt, up 16 percent from a year ago. Beef export value, which had already set a new annual record through October, increased more than $2.5 billion from a year ago, soaring 39 percent to $9.59 billion.

Beef exports continued on a record pace in the latest data for November. Total beef exports were up 8.1 percent in November and are up 18.5 percent year over year for the first 11 months of 2021.

“With one month of results still to be tabulated, it’s very gratifying to see red meat exports setting new annual records and achieving remarkable growth over a wide range of markets,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “It is important, however, that we do not take this success for granted or allow it to detract from the challenges facing U.S. agriculture. 

“Global demand for U.S. red meat has never been stronger, but labor and transportation obstacles and high input costs across the supply chain make it increasingly difficult to satisfy this demand. USMEF greatly appreciates the effort by lawmakers, maritime regulators and other officials to address the persistent congestion at U.S. ports, but this continues to be a costly and frustrating situation for U.S. exporters and their international customers.”

Japan will finish 2021 as the leading volume destination for U.S. beef exports but is in a neck-and-neck race with South Korea on export value. November exports to Japan totaled 27,539 mt, up 15 percent from a year ago, while value climbed 54 percent to $243.1 million. Through November, exports to Japan were 6 percent above last year’s pace at 297,354 mt. Export value reached $2.16 billion, up 22 percent and exceeding $2 billion for the first time since 2018. Growth to Japan has been in the chilled beef category (142,457 mt, up 13 percent) and in tongues, skirts and other variety meat (58,543 mt, up 38 percent), with continued strong retail demand.

November beef exports to Korea were 23,292 mt, up 23 percent from a year ago, while value soared 81 percent to a record $243.4 million. These results pushed January-November exports to new annual records of 258,552 mt valued at $2.17 billion—up 13 percent and 36 percent respectively, already exceeding the previous full-year highs reached in 2019. Chilled beef shipments to Korea totaled 79,619 mt, up 24 percent.

Beef exports to China/Hong Kong are also on pace to exceed $2 billion in 2021. Through November, exports to the region nearly doubled from a year ago to 219,264 mt (up 98 percent) and increased 125 percent in value to $1.9 billion. Direct exports to China, bolstered by greatly improved market access achieved in the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, increased more than 400 percent from a year ago to 172,257 mt, valued at $1.43 billion (up 502 percent).

Other highlights 

Beef variety meat exports set a new monthly value record in November at $116.1 million, up 51 percent from a year ago. November volume was up 5 percent to 25,298 mt. Following a down year in 2020, variety meat export volume through November increased 9 percent to 274,425 mt. Export value reached $975.2 million, up 23 percent and a new annual record.

Despite being modestly lower in volume through November (57,349 mt, down 3 percent), beef exports to Taiwan already set a new value record at $600.5 million, up 18 percent from a year ago and topping the previous high ($567.1 million) set in 2019.

Beef exports to Mexico rebounded impressively in 2021, climbing 10 percent in volume (181,699 mt) and 33 percent in value ($961.5 million). Mexico is the largest volume destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which were also 10 percent higher in volume at 87,695 mt, while value increased 19 percent to $236.9 million.

Led by strong gains in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras, beef exports to Central America had already surpassed previous annual records by the end of October. Through November, exports climbed 57 percent from a year ago to 19,554 mt and soared 86 percent higher in value ($126.3 million).

Strong growth in Chile, Colombia and Peru drove beef exports to South America 33 percent above last year’s pace at 28,875 mt, while value increased 86 percent to $162.5 million.

Beef exports to the Dominican Republic reached 7,106 mt, up 83 percent from a year ago, with value more than doubling to $68 million (up 120 percent and a new annual record).

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter equated to a record $480.67 in November, up 42 percent from a year ago. The January-November average was $402.09, up 35 percent. November exports accounted for 15.2 percent of total beef production and 12.9 percent for muscle cuts only, up from 14.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively, in November 2020. For January through November, these ratios were 15 percent of total production, up from 13.3 percent a year ago, and 12.8 percent for muscle cuts, up from 11.1 percent.

Lamb exports trend higher

Fueled by sharply higher muscle cut exports to the Caribbean and strong variety meat demand in Mexico, November exports of U.S. lamb totaled 1,420 mt (up 9 percent from a year ago) and were just over $2 million in value – up 37 percent and the highest since January 2020. Through November, lamb exports increased 8 percent to 12,440 mt, while value was 17 percent higher at $18 million. Muscle cut exports increased 12 percent to 1,232 mt, valued at $7.7 million (up 24 percent). USMEF

 

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