WASHINGTON — The value of beef exports held a lead over record levels in 2011 despite lower volumes during the first 11 months of 2012, according to the Beef Checkoff Program, citing data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a Checkoff contractor.

Beef exports declined 1 percent in value on a 13.3 percent drop in volume in November. US beef production declined in 2012. Year-to-date through November 2012, volumes dropped 11 percent (2.3 billion lbs.) but export value remained at $5.05 billion — 2 percent above the record-setting value pace of 2011.

Exports to Canada gained 18.5 percent in volume and 37.8 percent in value, while exports to Hong Kong climbed 18.8 percent and 62.6 percent in volume and value, respectively. Beef exports to Russia were up 19 percent in volume and 4 percent in value, while exports to Central/South America jumped 42.4 percent in volume and 56.3 percent in value. This included record exports to Chile, which were up sharply by 119 percent. Exports to this region were the top-performing beef export markets in November, according to the Checkoff. Export value to South Korea increased nearly 6 percent on a slight decline in volume.

Beef exports to price-sensitive markets such as Mexico are down so far in 2013, but the value of exports to premium markets such as Japan were up 19 percent for the year. Exports to Canada also were higher at 13 percent. The Checkoff said export values continue to grow even as volumes remain low.

A positive development for US beef exporters is the rebound of the Taiwan market. Taiwan was once a top-five US beef export market but was hindered for most of 2011 by ractopamine-related trade barriers that have since been resolved, the Checkoff said. In November, the value of beef sales to Taiwan jumped 13.7 percent over 2011 on slightly reduced volumes. For the year through November 2012, exports to Taiwan declined 48 percent in volume and 40 percent in value, but recent numbers are encouraging for 2013, according to the Checkoff.

Beef exports account for 12.6 percent of total production (9.8 percent for just muscle cuts) with a per-head value of $214.64, up 5 percent from 2011, the Checkoff said.