The value of beef exports through the first 11 months of 2012 remained slightly above 2011's record levels, despite continued lower volumes, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. As U.S. production declined in 2012, beef exports fell a modest 1 percent in value on a 13.3 percent drop in volume in November. Year-to-date through November, volumes were down 11 percent (2.3 billion pounds) but the value of those exports was a strong $5.05 billion – still 2 percent above the record-setting value pace of 2011.
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Exports to Canada (up 18.5 percent in volume and 37.8 percent in value), Hong Kong (up 18.8 percent and 62.6 percent in volume and value, respectively), Russia (up 19 percent in volume and 4 percent in value) and Central/South America (up 42.4 percent in volume and 56.3 percent in value; including record exports to Chile, up 119 percent) were the top-performing beef export markets in November. Export value to South Korea increased nearly 6 percent on a slight decline in volume.

Beef exports to price-sensitive markets like Mexico are down this year, but the value of exports to premium markets like Japan (up 19 percent for the year) and Canada (up 13 percent) continue to grow even as volumes remain low.

Another positive for beef exporters is the rebound of the Taiwan market, which was once a top-five U.S. beef export market but was hindered for most of 2011 by ractopamine-related barriers that have since been resolved. In November, the value of beef sales to Taiwan jumped 13.7 percent over last year on slightly reduced volumes. For the year through November, exports to Taiwan were down 48 percent in volume and 40 percent in value, but recent numbers are encouraging for 2013.

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 last year. Complete export results are available online. For more information about your beef checkoff investment in foreign marketing programs, visit