Beef Exports Bounce Back
Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
The April trade data shows that beef exports for the month were up 22.1 percent year over year and up 18.0 percent compared to 2019. Year to date total beef exports for the first four months of the year were up 7.9 percent year over year and 14.9 percent over the same period in 2019.
Beef exports to Asia (including Vietnam) account for 71.7 percent of total beef exports thus far in 2021. Japan, while still the leading beef export market, is down 15.7 percent thus far in 2021 compared to last year but is up 3.3 percent over year-to-date 2019 levels. Japan accounts for 24.6 percent of total exports, barely ahead of South Korea, which has a 24.0 percent share of beef exports thus far in 2021. Beef exports to South Korea are up 17.0 percent year over year and up 25.4 percent over 2019 for the year to date. Monthly beef exports to South Korea have exceeded exports to Japan in January, February and April this year. The combined China/Hong Kong market is the most rapidly growing beef export market, up 189.4 percent year over year and up 161.6 percent over 2019 for the year to date through April. The China/Hong Kong market represents 17.2 percent of total beef exports thus far in 2021, making it the number three beef export market. Taiwan, the number six beef export market, is down 14.3 percent for the year to date compared to last year and down 4.6 percent from 2019. Taiwan represents 5.1 percent of total beef exports for the year to date.
Beef exports to Mexico remain sharply reduced since the pandemic began. Beef exports to Mexico began to drop in March of 2020 and after a brief recovery in November and December 2020 have continued at reduced levels. Year to date beef exports to Mexico are down 2.1 percent year over year but are down 23.6 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Mexico remains the number four beef export market accounting for 10.4 percent of beef exports thus far in 2021. Beef exports to Canada are down 13.5 percent year over year for the first four months of the year but are up 7.9 percent compared to 2019. Canada ranks number five as a destination for U.S. beef exports with an 8.2 percent share of total exports thus far in 2021. The top six export markets represent 89.5 percent of total beef exports for the January through April period in 2021. Smaller markets include the Philippines (1.3 percent of exports) and Indonesia, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, and the Netherlands, each with less than one percent shares, rounding out the top 12 beef export markets.
Beef exports, which have declined each of the past two years, are forecast to increase above 2019 and 2020 levels and possibly exceed the record 2018 level. Beef exports represent a component of total beef demand in terms of quantity and value. Moreover, beef exports represent a wide range of product types and qualities exported to various markets and augment domestic beef demand by providing markets for products less desired in the U.S. Exporting products with lower U.S. demand allows domestic beef demand to focus on encouraging consumers to purchase more of the products they prefer more highly and thus maximizing domestic beef value. All beef products produced will be consumed somewhere but it adds value both in the domestic and global market when we have a diverse portfolio of beef markets to market the wide range of beef products produced by the industry.
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