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U.S. says record exports to Korea, Taiwan lead August beef highlights

Christian Fernsby |
South Korea was the pacesetter for U.S. beef exports in August, setting new records for volume (27,149 mt) and value ($183.1 million).

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Topics: U.S.    KOREA    TAIWAN   

For January through August, exports to Korea were still down 3% in volume (168,262 mt) and 6% in value ($1.18 billion) from last year’s record pace, due in large part to coronavirus related impacts on the U.S. supply chain, as well as restrictions on Korea’s foodservice operations.

Korea gradually eased restrictions this summer but recently re-imposed some social distancing measures, including limits on gatherings and banquets, which have a negative impact on demand for loin cuts.

Beef exports to Taiwan continued to rebound in August, reaching a record 7,439 mt (up 20% from a year ago) valued at $63.8 million (up 8%). These results pulled January-August exports within 1% of last year’s record pace at 42,529 mt.

While export value was down 5% at $364.2 million, a strong finish in 2020 could still push exports to Taiwan to an eighth consecutive value record.

August beef exports to Japan were 26,150 mt, down 9% from a year ago, valued at $155 million (down 6%). Through August, exports to Japan were down 4% in volume (209,570 mt) and 2% in value ($1.33 billion).

This was due mainly to a sharp decline in variety meat exports, although variety meat volumes have rebounded from the lows posted in May and June, following U.S. supply chain disruptions.

For muscle cuts only, January-August exports to Japan increased 4% from a year ago to 180,592 mt, valued at $1.08 billion (down 2%), with beef short plate exports accounting for much of this growth.

Other January-August highlights for U.S. beef include:

- Beef exports to China set another new record in August at 3,886 mt valued at $28.3 million, more than quadrupling last year’s totals. January-August exports to China were 13,148 mt (up 134% from a year ago) valued at $97.3 million (up 118%), already exceeding full-year totals from 2019. Exports to the China/Hong Kong region increased 7% to 64,644 mt, with value up 1% to $518.3 million.

- Following a down year in 2019, beef exports to Canada continue to gain momentum, reaching 74,387 mt valued $505.7 million (up 14%).

- Exports to Africa, a growing destination for beef livers and other variety meats, rebounded in August at 1,733 mt (up 18% from a year ago). Through August, exports to Africa increased 56% in volume (18,729 mt) and 35% in value ($15.8 million), led by growth in South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Angola and Ethiopia.

- Exports to Indonesia were 2,644 mt in August, up 24% from a year ago, with muscle cut exports setting a new record at 1,837 mt (up 99%). January-August exports totaled 14,208 mt, down 8% from last year’s record pace, valued at $50.1 million (down 1%).

- Foodservice restrictions and a steep decline in tourism continue to weigh heavily on beef exports to Mexico, though July and August volumes were up sharply from the May low. Through August, shipments to Mexico were down 28% from a year ago to 112,598 mt, valued at $493.8 million (down 32%). Mexico is still the largest volume destination for U.S. beef variety meats, though shipments through August were down 9% from a year ago in volume (56,611 mt) and 16% lower in value ($139.4 million).

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