Beef exports for the third-quarter totaled 590 million lbs., 19% higher than year earlier levels. Strong demand for US beef abroad and a weaker US dollar have largely fueled US beef exports or, rather, total red-meat exports this year. With continued economic improvement, this trend shows no signs of slowing into 2011.
Furthermore, the strong export demand for beef has been pointed to as one of the dominant factors underpinning wholesale beef prices in the domestic market. US beef exports to Japan and South Korea through the third quarter were 24% and 133% higher year-over-year, respectively. Exports to Taiwan and Hong Kong were 46% and 50% higher year-over-year.
Strong early fourth quarter increases in exports, particularly to Japan and Mexico are being shown by weekly FAS export sales reports. The yen continues to strengthen (averaging 81.74 JPY/USD in October and 81.34 JPY/USD thus far in November) to new highs. Weekly exports to Mexico — below 2009 levels so far this year — have increased in the fourth quarter from prior weekly levels, largely due to the elimination of compensatory import duties previously imposed on US beef imports to Mexico.
Weekly exports to Taiwan and Vietnam in October were also at their strongest to date. Year-over-year growth in US beef exports to trading partners in Asia is anticipated for next year, as is growth to Canada due to decreased Canadian production. Increasing consumption of beef in Egypt should also provide strong support to imports of US beef to that country next year. Total US beef exports for 2011 are forecast at 2.27 billion lbs.