Lower beef exports and higher imports thus far in 2012
U.S. beef exports through April were 11 percent below year-earlier levels as quantities shipped to most U.S. trading partners have declined. Exports to Japan, Canada, and Mexico through April were 7, 6, and 9 percent lower year-over-year. Exports to South Korea and Hong Kong were 32 and 18 percent lower year-over-year. A tighter U.S. beef supply and a relatively stronger U.S. dollar than in most of 2011 have largely been behind the export reductions to date. Export levels to Egypt and Vietnam, however, were 19 and 40 percent higher through the same period. U.S. beef exports for 2012 are forecast at 2.6 billion pounds and are expected to be 1 percent higher in 2013.
U.S. beef imports through April 2012 were 22 percent higher than year-earlier levels. Year-over-year imports from Australia through April were 74 percent higher, while imports from New Zealand and Canada have demonstrated only moderate growth of 3 and 9 percent. Although much smaller quantities of beef are imported from Mexico and Uruguay, the percentage growth year-over-year from these two countries is 37 and 43 percent, respectively. U.S. beef imports for 2012 are forecast at 2.4 billion pounds and are expected to be 7 percent higher in 2013 at 2.6 billion pounds.