U.S. beef export volumes were down 11 percent in 2012 from 2011, but the value of those exports were up 2 percent to $5.05 billion, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
The top markets for U.S. beef in November were Canada (up 18.5 percent in volume and 37.8 percent in value), Hong Kong (up 18.8 percent in volume and 62.6 percent in value), Russia (up 19 percent in volume and 4 percent in value) and Central/South America (up 42.4 percent in volume and 56.3 percent in value).
“Volume has been an issue for beef exports all year,” USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said. “That continued in November, but an appreciated value of those products has helped the industry hold its own in a challenging year.”
Higher prices have deterred markets like Mexico, which is price-sensitive. However, U.S. beef value to markets like Japan and Canada have increased, despite lower volumes.
“There is no question that rising production costs and slowing economic growth have kept buyers on the sidelines or moved them toward less expensive options,” Seng said. “While volumes are lower, the quality and reputation of U.S. red meat products have helped support higher values, and that is not a statement that most of our competitors in the international marketplace can make.”