For the first four months of the year as a whole, volume was down by 8% to 437,910 metric tons and volume was down by 21% to US$3.21 billion against the record 2022 result.
April was another strong month for Mexico, which had a volume increase of 10% to 14,403 metric tons while value grew by 18% to US$81.8 million. For the year so far, Mexico imported 64,912 metric tons of U.S. beef (up by 14%) and paid US$365.4 million (up by 17%).
This included 32,912 metric tons of beef variety meat, for which Mexico is the leading destination. This was an increase of 13% in volume, while value was up by 19% to US$93.9 million.
Exports to South Korea in April totalled 24,825 metric tons, up by 7% year-on-year, while value fell by 13% to US$201.8 million. For January-April, exports totalled 88,708 metric tons and US$707.1 million, down by 10% and 31% respectively. USMEF noted that the Korean won has devalued against the U.S. dollar but recently rebounded, while inflation has also eased, so the outlook is positive.
U.S. beef exports to the European Union (EU) plus the UK (which USMEF noted which restricts imports to beef from non-hormone-treated cattle) were up by 25% in volume to 2,345 metric tons and 32% in value to US$31.4 million.
This is the highest volume result since September 2019, reportedly driven by demand in the UK despite the U.S. beef having no duty-free access. The report noted that Australia and New Zealand now have duty-free quotas for beef exports to the UK under their recently implemented free trade agreements, putting U.S. beef at a disadvantage.
A highlight of the results was South Africa, which features a strong rebound in demand for beef variety meat. April exports were up by 96% in volume at 1,374 metric tons, while value increased by 70% to US$1.5 million. For January through April, exports were up by 162% in volume to 7,199 metric tons and 165% in value to US$7.8 million.
April’s exports to China/Hong Kong totalled 21,235 metric tons, a drop of 8% year-on-year, while value fell by 13% to US$186 million. Through April, exports were down by 11% in volume to 76,357 metric tons and 17% in value to US$663.1 million. USMEF said that despite falling behind 2022, this is a strong result.
Beef export value in April was US$441.70 per head of federal slaughter, a drop of 10% year-on-year but the highest since July 2022. The average for January-April was US$389.53, down by 19%. April exports accounted for 15.7% of total beef production and 13.5% for muscle cuts only, mirroring April 2022. Through April, exports accounted for 14.4% of total production and 12.2% for muscle cuts, each down about one-half percentage point from a year ago.
USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said: “With U.S. beef supplies tightening, it’s difficult to keep pace with the remarkable export totals posted in the first half of 2022, but exports continue to account for a similar share of production as last year’s record.
“The rebound in travel and tourism – which is now gaining momentum in Asia – and related foodservice opportunities continue to support beef demand. In some countries we have also seen a recent easing of the inflationary pressure on consumers’ discretionary income.”