US beef exports continue upward climb

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – A weak US dollar and strong economic recovery in many parts of the world, combined with tightened supplies of competing beef, may help contribute to an increase in US beef exports, states the recent edition of the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook of the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Losing much strength since the summer of 2010, the US dollar has continued to decline against the currencies of its major beef trading partners. What’s more, the US dollar is at its lowest levels against the Mexican peso and South Korean won since late 2008. It also fell to new lows against the Japanese yen in the final quarter of 2010.

Along with increasing demand for US beef, global economies also continue to grow stronger. ERS relays strong growth is predicted for US beef exports to Asia. South Korea’s recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has increased expectations for even stronger growth of US beef exports to that nation in 2011.

However, South Korea’s cattle sector was only minimally impacted by FMD, as an estimated 5% of its cattle herd was culled. The higher pork prices created as a result of the large swine cull in that nation is a more significant factor for increased US beef exports to South Korea this year, insiders said. Higher pork prices may force some South Koreans to switch to beef in the meantime.

Regarding beef exports to Japan, the recent earthquake and tsunami devastating that island nation is impacting the level of and timing of shipments.

US beef exports for the first-quarter 2011 are anticipated to increase over 2010 by 28%, at 610 million lbs. Nine percent and 3% growth above 2010 levels is anticipated in the second and third quarters of 2011. Exports in the fourth quarter are predicted to decline below 2010 levels.

US beef exports for 2011 are expected to total 2.43 billion lbs. This would equal 9.3% of US production, which is slightly below the record of 9.4% set in 2000.

ERS said that accounting for a further decrease in US beef imports, the US would be a net exporter of beef in 2011 once again on a quantity basis as it was for the first time in 2010. And beef export levels in 2011 would also be just 3.7% below the record year 2003—before the-bovine spongiform encephalopathy outbreak.
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