Top 10 destinations for U.S. beef exports

Japan, South Korea, and Mexico were the top destinations for U.S. beef exports in 2019.

In that year, the value of exports of beef and beef products from the United States to the world fell by 3%, at an annual rate.

The top three markets, accounting for 61% of sales, totaled $ 2 billion (Japan), $ 1.8 billion (South Korea), and $ 1.1 billion (Mexico).

The lower year-on-year beef exports were due to lower shipments to Japan, Hong Kong and Canada.

With the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TIPAT, or CPTPP) in late 2018, the United States began to face a competitive disadvantage in Japan, its main export market, and lost share of market versus Canada, New Zealand and Mexico.

In addition, according to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), tariff and non-tariff barriers in the Chinese market prevented the United States from capitalizing on the increase in Chinese demand.

Despite a year-over-year increase in shipments to China, the US market share in China is less than 1 percent.

Overall, exports accounted for 11% of the domestic production of the United States, which was the world’s largest beef producer, the second-largest importer, and the fourth-largest exporter by volume in 2019.

Beef exports

Before the Covid-19 outbreaks, the USDA predicted that beef exports would increase significantly in volume in 2020 as improved market access for beef from the United States and strong global demand spur trade.

Australia, one of the main American competitors in Asia, will begin to rebuild a herd that is at its lowest level in two decades.

This will lead to lower exportable supplies and will likely benefit the United States, according to the USDA.

Additionally, improved market access due to the Japan-China agreements will support US exports to two major markets.

The Phase One Agreement between the United States and China has the potential to improve access for American beef by addressing some non-tariff barriers and reducing existing tariffs.

In addition, the continuing global protein deficit caused by African swine fever will support demand for US beef.

With projected export growth, the United States’ share of world beef exports is forecast to increase slightly.

As of January 1, 2020, a portion of the European Union’s High Quality Beef Quota (HQB) will be reserved for US products.

The portion of the HQB quota reserved for US beef will steadily increase over the next 7 years.

The USDA projects the United States to be the world’s largest producer of beef, the second-largest importer of beef, and the third-largest exporter of beef, surpassing Australia, but behind Brazil and India.


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