According to the latest date from the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports in January slipped 1% year-over-year to 104,766 metric tons (mt), but value still increased 3% to US$642.3m.
What helped maintain its presence was a strong showing in Japan. Beef exports to leading market Japan increased 8% year-over-year to 25,925mt, valued at US$167m (up 12%). Variety meat exports to Japan (mainly tongues) were especially strong, soaring by 36% in both volume (4,645mt) and value (US$31.4m).
“It’s great to see Japan’s demand for US beef increase in January despite these tariff rate changes for our major competitors,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “But this disadvantage will become more and more pronounced over time, so negotiations toward a US-Japan trade agreement cannot come soon enough. The playing field needs to be leveled as quickly as possible so that the US industry can continue to capitalize on booming meat demand in Japan.”
Meanwhile, beef exports to South Korea increased 4% in January to 17,900mt, with value up 10% to $134.3m. The US has benefitted from several new trends in Korea, including mid-priced steak restaurants, inclusion of beef cuts such as chuck-eye roll and short plate in meal kits sold at retail and through e-commerce, and demand for a wider range of US beef cuts, such as brisket point, in Korean barbecue establishments.
Other markets that US beef performed well in included Mexico, with value rising 14% year-on-year; Indonesia and the Philippines, with volumes growing a massive 49% and value up 31%,; Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras which helped the US’ exports to Central America grow by 39% and 36% in volume and value terms respectively.
Areas that didn’t perform as well included Taiwan which saw a 12% value drop and Hong Kong which experienced 36% (volume) and 28% (value) dips.