The value of first quarter U.S. beef exports is down slightly compared to a year ago. The drop resulted primarily from Russia virtually closing market access to U.S. beef, in addition to drops in exports to Vietnam and Mexico. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) CEO Phil Seng put the spotlight on Japan Monday, citing their expansion of market access to U.S. beef from cattle 30 months of age and younger.
“For the most part, we are doing pretty well on the beef side,” said Seng, during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “I think that when we take a look at Japan, for example, we were up 80 percent in volume just in March alone [following] the changeover from the 20 to 30 months, so that’s been significant.”
Pork exports from the United States during the first quarter, according to Seng, have challenges of their own.
“In traditional markets like Japan where we’ve always done quite well, it’s our leading market for a volume basis, we’re down about 12 percent; Hong Kong/China, down about 10 percent,” he said.
Pork exports to Colombia have jumped, but pork going to Russia has been severely restricted.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation Board of Directors is meeting this week in Washington, D.C. Seng made his comments from that meeting.