WASHINGTON – As 2011 comes to a close, US beef exports still remain strong, according to the Dec. 15 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This year beef exports are forecast to total 2.78 billion lbs., up 21 percent.

Increased demand for US beef as foreign consumers’ disposable incomes increased; a global, multi-year decrease in total cattle inventories and beef production; more foreign countries purchasing US beef; plus a favorable exchange rate all supported the strong US beef export market in 2011.

The biggest US beef export increases through October came from South Korea, up 45 percent; Japan, up 31 percent; and Canada, up 33 percent. Totaling almost two-thirds of the total US beef exported during that time, these countries are the largest importers of US beef. Export totals to Hong Kong, up 41 percent; Egypt, up 23 percent; and Russia, up 85 percent, also experienced strong growth increases. These countries, along with Mexico (up 1 percent) imported more than 80 percent of total US beef exports through October.

US beef production is expected to drop 5 percent in 2012. As a result, total exportable supplies will be tight. However, the strength experienced in the US beef export market is anticipated to continue on into 2012, which will include Asian market growth. US beef exports are expected to be about even with this year’s levels, even though US beef supplies will be tighter.