US red meat exports solid in November 2013

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Beef sales set a new record in November as US red meat exports for the month recorded solid gains, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported.

US beef exports jumped 11 percent in volume and 16 percent in value on sustained growth of exports to Japan and Hong Kong and the continued rebound of the Mexican market, according to USMEF. Eleven-month totals reached nearly 1.1 million metric tons, a 3 percent increase compared to the comparable period in 2012. Export value totaled $5.61 billion, up 11 percent over the pace set in 2013 and ahead of the 2012 year-end total of $5.51 billion.

“Market access…product availability…relationships. There are many factors that play a role in the export marketplace,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “We continue to see benefits from expanded market access for beef in Japan and Hong Kong. At the same time, the lack of access for U.S. beef to Mainland China and the closure of the Russian market for both pork and beef – which is approaching a year in duration – are significant barriers.”

Solid growth in markets for pork in Mexico and Central and South America lifted US pork exports to the highest totals of the year, USMEF reported. However, year-to-date pork exports lagged behind record numbers gained in 2012 by 6 percent in volume, or 1.95 million metric tons, valued at $5.5 billion, a 5 percent decline in value.

Seng said additional hurdles for US pork exports to both China and Japan have had a negative impact. US beef exports also have been challenged by a smaller US cattle herd and a concurrent surge in beef production in Australia.
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By Max H Herr 1/9/2014 6:44:27 AM
It's interesting how total US Beef exports in 2013 were about the same amount as total US Beef imports in 2012. One explanation seems to be that "The primary driver for U.S. beef imports is the fact that our cattle are just too fat. Or, at the very least, our ground beef is too fatty. Foreign beef most commonly makes it to the U.S. in the form of lean, grass-fed beef." Now, given the fact that "the U.S. cattle herd has been shrinking since its peak of 115 million in the 1980s. Due mainly to feed prices and drought, today’s population sits at just over 90 million, down to numbers not seen since the 1950s," why is it that our herds are "too fat"? Something is amiss here. Obviously, exporting a significant portion of the domestic beef supply drives up the price of the remaining beef in the domestic market. Are the cattlemen getting this added income, or is it going to IBP and Cargill and the other big packing houses? I think the answer is obvious. The cattlemen are being squeezed by the grain suppliers, whose feed crops are dwindling because their harvests are being converted from food to fuel and USDA continues to restrict the overall size of the corn crop in disregard, and the meat packers are not increasing the purchase price for their commodity as fast as they can increase the price of domestic boxed beef and exports. Just another example of government interference in the exercise of capitalism.