U.S. beef producers haven’t been able to keep up the blistering record pace of beef exports in 2011, but first half results show that foreign consumers paid about 4 percent more this year despite an 11 percent drop in volume. January to June exports totaled 550,462 metric tons with a value of $2.66 billion.
For pork exporters, both volume and value remain high, with 1.13 million metric tons valued at $3.17 billion exported during the January to June period. The volume was 5 percent higher than the first half of 2011, and the value was 13 percent higher than the year earlier period.
Mexico remained the top volume market for pork, with purchases of 294,097 metric tons valued at $537.4 million in the six-month period. Volume to the NAFTA nation was up 13 percent, and value was up 11 percent. Mexico also remained the top volume destination for U.S. beef, with 103,751 metric tons, but slipped to third behind Canada and Japan in value with sales of $446 million. The volume to Mexico was down 18 percent and value was down 6 percent from the same six-month period last year.
Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said pork exports to Japan during the rest of this year will be “challenging,” but he noted new marketing initiatives in Mexico and Russia.
“While we are pleased to see beef export value on a record pace again this year, USMEF is focused on reversing this decline in volume,” Seng said. “The economic challenges are significant, and there is no single approach that applies in every market. But we are working with our contacts in the trade to educate customers about more economical beef cuts, which can help them maintain or expand their purchases of U.S. beef. We also take great care to emphasize the unique attributes of U.S. beef in an effort to build customer loyalty even in times of rising costs.”