December statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, confirm that 2010 was the best year ever for U.S. beef export value. A final total of $4.08 billion breaks the pre-BSE high from 2003 of $3.86 billion by more than 5 percent and exceeds the 2009 total by nearly $1 billion. Total volume was 2.35 billion pounds, an increase of 19 percent over 2009.
What a difference a year makes - a $1 billion jump in beef export value
The global economic downturn of 2009 was particularly hard on beef exports - not only for the United States, but for all exporting countries. But despite an overall drop in global demand, U.S. beef maintained or increased its market share in most key markets and was well-positioned for a rebound in 2010.
"We knew the groundwork was in place for an excellent recovery in 2010," says USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But even the most optimistic forecasts underestimated the degree to which our beef exports would bounce back. Increasing beef export value by almost one-third, and nearly $1 billion, is a critical achievement for the U.S. beef industry and a substantial boost for U.S. producers."
Export value equated to $153.09 per head of fed slaughter, which is up 22 percent from 2009 and is 12 percent higher than in 2003. Nearly 12 percent of total beef production was exported, compared to less than 10 percent in 2009.
Mexico was the only major destination for U.S. beef to show a decline in 2010, and even that market is showing substantial improvement. For the year, beef exports to Mexico were down 15 percent in volume (545.9 million pounds) and 10 percent in value ($819.1 million). For the third consecutive month, December exports to Mexico exceeded their 2009 value - jumping by more than 15 percent to $83.6 million.
• Exports to Canada increased 7 percent in volume (337.7 million pounds) and 15 percent in value ($733.4 million - a new record) over 2009. Canada remains the No. 2 market for U.S. beef in both volume and value.
• Japan is the third-largest market for U.S. beef, but is gaining ground quickly in terms of value. In 2010, exports to Japan increased by 36 percent in both volume (274.6 million pounds) and value ($639.5 million).
• South Korea represents one of the great turnaround stories of 2010, with exports more than doubling in volume (248.6 million pounds) and climbing by 140 percent in value ($517.9 million).
• Exports to Russia also doubled in volume to almost 126.7 million pounds and nearly quadrupled in value to a record $152.4 million. The surge in value was due to a tremendous increase in muscle cut exports to Russia, which grew by more than 500 percent. But variety meat exports to Russia also performed well, increasing by 26 percent in volume and 90 percent in value.
• A similar scenario took place in the Middle East, where variety meat exports jumped by 19 percent in volume and 40 percent in value, but muscle cut exports rose by 87 percent and 113 percent, respectively. In total, exports to the region increased by 36 percent in volume (296.5 million pounds) and 77 percent in value ($261.2 million - a new record).
• Taiwan shattered its previous record for export value by more than 50 percent, reaching $216.3 million. The market has cooled substantially in January and February, however, due to market access restrictions.
• Despite a down year for Vietnam, the ASEAN region posted an export value record of $232.3 million, led by strong results in Indonesia and the Philippines.
• Exports to Hong Kong also set a value record of $158.2 million, an increase of 87 percent over 2009.
• In the first full-year of a duty-free quota in the European Union, exports increased substantially. Through November, high-quality beef exported under the quota totaled 23.4 million pounds valued at just under $100 million.
• U.S. beef exports also set new records in the Caribbean and Central-South America regions.
Complete export results for all markets are available online.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment in foreign marketing programs, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.