Asia Demand Adds Muscle to US Beef Exports

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US beef exports set a record in August, according to a new report released by the USDA and the US Meat Export Federation. Beef export volumes totalled 899,300 million tonnes in the January to August period, up 9 percent from the previous year. Export values rose at a quicker pace, jumping 18 percent to $5.51 billion.The US is also exporting a greater percentage of its beef, amounting to 13.5 percent of total beef production compared with 12.8 percent last year.

Nearly two-thirds of the US beef export market is in Asia, especially Japan and South Korea, and strengthened ties with these countries is boosting trade. Export volumes to Japan, the largest importer of US beef, rose 7 percent to 224,785 tonnes in the January to August period from a year earlier, while value increased 11 percent to $1.42 billion. These figures are expected to rise as talks of a trade agreement with Japan are underway. The agreement is expected to allow the US to export beef to Japan under the age of 20 months and reduce trade tariffs, conceivably putting US beef exports on a level playing field with Australia.

The Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), in effect since 2012, is helping exports to the second-largest importer of US beef. Korea took 161,379 tonnes of US beef, up 39 percent from a year ago, in the first eight months of 2018, while export value reached $1.15 billion, up 54 percent. Koreans’ growing appetite for beef , along with only modest increases in Korea domestic-herd production, are expected to keep demand for US beef exports strong.

At the same time, US exports of pork are showing weakness this year, hurt in part by retaliatory duties in China, the report said. For January through August, US pork exports were up 1 percent from last year’s record pace at 1.63 million tonnes, while value rose 3 percent to $4.32 billion. Both pork-export volumes and value fell in the month of August.

Gro Intelligence subscribers can stay up to date with beef and pork markets by monitoring export and import volumes of these commodities.


Beef exports from the US have risen steadily since 2015 (left chart). The right chart shows the major importers of US beef: Japan, South Korea, and Mexico.

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