WASHINGTON – US beef exports for 2010 are forecast at 2.28 billion lbs., as 615 and 605 million lbs. are forecast to be exported in the third and fourth quarters of this year, according to the Oct. 22 Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook from USDA’s Economic Research Service. The export forecast for the second half of 2010 is the nearest to date to the export totals seen in the second half of 2002 and 2003, pre-bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) disease outbreak years. In 2003, 680 and 578 million lbs. of US beef were exported in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

Beef exports through August were 17% higher year-over-year, with exports to Japan and South Korea 21% and 132% higher, respectively. Exports to Taiwan and Hong Kong through August were 47% and 53% higher year-over-year.

US beef exports have grown year-over-year since 2004. However, in 2011, 2.21 billion lbs. of US beef are forecast to be exported, which will mark the first year-over-year decline since 2004. The decline, however, does not stem from weakened international demand, but rather from the tightened supply of domestic beef. Year-over-year growth is anticipated for only the first quarter of 2011, with 515 million lbs. of US beef forecast to be exported.

Beef export levels for the remaining quarters of the year are forecast to be in the range of 2% to 9% below this year’s quarterly export levels, beginning in the second quarter 2011. A continued weak US dollar into 2011 should also give firm support to next year’s export forecast.

With a tighter US beef supply in 2011, beef exports to import markets may become a function of which countries are the highest bidders. Regardless, exports to several Asian markets (South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Hong Kong) are expected to remain strong in 2011. Demand for beef in Egypt, a market where US export levels have been historically marginal, is also expected to remain relatively strong. In 2011, the strength of international demand for US beef should continue to support wholesale beef prices domestically, as has been the case for much of this year.