2018 an Exceptional Year for US Beef Exports Especially in Asian Market Despite Current Challenges

2018 an Exceptional Year for US Beef Exports Especially in Asian Market Despite Current Challenges
Mar 14, 2019

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The recent USDA release of the December livestock trade data, according to Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Market Economist Dr. Derrell Peel, puts a bow on cattle and beef trade for 2018. For the year, beef exports increased 10.3 percent year over year and beef imports were nearly unchanged, up 0.2 percent. Total cattle exports increased 23.7 percent year over year while cattle imports increased 5.2 percent from one year ago. This article focuses on beef exports. In a recent interview, Peel says this report confirmed what most were already anticipating - another record year for US beef exports.
 
This report, delayed by the government shutdown earlier this year, indicates that US beef exports increased for a third consecutive year in 2018 to a new record level of 3.16 billion pounds. Beef exports were up to most major markets including Japan, up 6.6 percent; South Korea, up 35.0 percent; and Mexico, up 7.0 percent. Canada decreased 3.0 year over year while beef exports to Taiwan increased 34.4 percent from 2017 to a new record level.
 
Hong Kong is currently the number four market for U.S. beef and was down 8.5 percent in 2018. Trade data for Hong Kong are reported separately from Mainland China but it will be increasingly important to consider Hong Kong and China data jointly in the future. It is expected that expected that exports to Hong Kong (which include unofficial or “grey trade” movement of products into China) may decrease when U.S. beef exports to China grow. It has been reported recently that China has clamped down on grey trade coming through Hong Kong. Beef exports to mainland China in 2018 (the first full year of market access under current agreements) represented 0.7 percent of total U.S. beef exports. U.S. beef exports to China remain minimal due to the tariffs currently in place. Combined Hong Kong/mainland China beef exports were down 4.6 percent year over year in 2018.
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