Strong First Half for U.S. Red Meat Exports

U.S. beef exports continued to trend above year-ago levels in June, capping a very strong first half of the year. Exports also achieved higher values on a per-head-slaughtered basis and accounted for a steady-to-higher percentage of total production.

June beef exports were the largest of 2017, reaching 241.5 million pounds – up 11 percent year-over-year and the largest June total since 2011. Export value increased 10 percent to $602.5 million. For January through June, beef exports were up 12 percent in volume (1.3 billion pounds) and 15 percent in value ($3.35 billion) compared to the first half of last year.

Exports accounted for nearly 13 percent of total U.S. beef production in June and 10 percent for muscle cuts only – each about even with a year ago. The ratios were the same for January through June, which was also steady with the first half of last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $264.51 in June, up 6 percent from a year ago. Through June, per-head export value was up 8 percent to $269.21.

Chilled beef to Asia drives first-half growth; exports increase to most destinations

Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to gain momentum in June, with volume up 7 percent to 60.7 million pounds and value up 13 percent to $174.4 million (the highest since 2000). First-half exports to Japan exceeded last year’s pace by 23 percent in volume (332.5 million pounds) and 28 percent in value ($905.8 million). This included a 40 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 156.1 million pounds, valued at $511 million (up 38 percent), as the U.S. captured more than 50 percent of the chilled beef market. While demand for U.S. beef is very strong in Japan’s retail and foodservice sectors, frozen exports to Japan face a higher tariff rate through March 2018. See more details on this issue online.

June exports to South Korea were the largest since January at 32.4 million pounds, up 14 percent from a year ago, valued at $92.4 million (up 20 percent and the highest of 2017). First-half exports to Korea were up 13 percent in volume (183.8 million pounds) and 21 percent in value ($527.7 million). The U.S. also captured more than 50 percent of Korea’s chilled beef market as chilled exports totaled 41.5 million pounds (up 83 percent year-over-year) valued at $166 million (up 86 percent).

Other first-half highlights for U.S. beef exports included:

  • Exports to Taiwan totaled 44.9 million pounds (up 19 percent from a year ago) valued at $179 million (up 26 percent). This included chilled beef exports of 18 million pounds (up 19 percent) valued at $93.5 million (up 22 percent) as the U.S. captured more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
  • After a slow start to the year, exports to Hong Kong rebounded to post double-digit first-half gains in both volume (56,846, up 11 percent) and value ($357.4 million, up 17 percent).
  • Exports to Mexico increased 3 percent in volume (253.4 million pounds) while slipping 3 percent in value ($459.7 million). But muscle cut exports to Mexico – mainly shoulder clods, rounds and other end cuts – fared better, increasing 9 percent in volume (136.2 million pounds) and 2 percent in value ($353.8 million).
  • Led by a doubling of exports to Vietnam and Indonesia and strong demand in the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region increased 85 percent in volume (45.3 million pounds) and 61 percent in value to $99 million.
  • Fueled by strong growth in Chile, Guatemala and Colombia, exports to Central and South America increased 11 percent in volume (42.2 million pounds) and 5 percent in value ($83.8 million). Exports to Brazil, which began in late April, totaled 908,304 pounds of muscle cuts and 1.4 million pounds of variety meat at a combined value of $2.6 million.
  • After reopening in 2016, South Africa quickly emerged as the fourth-largest destination for U.S. beef variety meat, with first-half exports (mainly livers) reaching 17.3 million pounds – an increase of nearly 500 percent from a year ago – valued at $6 million.

The above-mentioned statistics are released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the beef checkoff. Complete June export results for U.S. beef are available from USMEF’s statistics web page. Monthly charts for U.S. beef exports are also available online. If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at or 303-226-7309.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

Source: Cattlemen’s Beef Board

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Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

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