Competitor watch: US beef exports starting to slow, as drought effect grows

Beef Central, 11/01/2024

Beef exports from the United States totalled just over 99,000 tonnes in November, down 14 percent from a year earlier and the second lowest volume month of the year, US Meat Exporters Federation reported this week.

For the first 11 months of the 2023 year, US beef exports were 13pc below the record pace of 2022 at 1.18 million tonnes, as production volume in the US begins to slow in the face of severe drought during 2022-23.

Beef exports increased year-over-year to Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic and Hong Kong, but trended significantly lower to the major markets of South Korea, Japan and China, where the US competes mostly directly with Australia.

Exports to Taiwan were below the record levels of 2022, but did not decline as sharply as in the larger Asian markets.

“There are certainly bright spots for US beef, with exports rebounding in Mexico and demand in several western hemisphere markets the strongest we’ve seen in years,” USMEF president and chief executive Dan Halstrom said.

“But economic conditions in our largest Asian markets and the sharp rebound in Australian production and exports have been persistent obstacles over the past year, making it a sharp contrast with the tremendous 2022 performance for US beef exports,” he said.

“Despite these challenges, we still see sustained demand for chilled US beef, and the U.S. remains the dominant supplier of chilled beef entering Korea, Japan and Taiwan.”

Through November, US exports to Korea were 17pc below the record pace of 2022 at 225,235t, while value was down 24pc to US$1.91 billion.

Exports to Japan declined 22pc to 224,489t, with value also falling 24pc to $1.67 billion.

US shipments to China were down 24pc in volume to 174,900t.

US beef prices were increasing at a time that competitors’ prices were falling, and North Asian consumers were pinched by sustained inflationary pressures during 2023, which also contributed to a lack of consumer confidence, US MEF said.

“These negative factors should ease in 2024, but marketing the value attributes of US beef will remain critical,” the federation said.




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