If U.S. beef exports are going to keep up with production, the immediate future rests on consumers in just five countries. The longer-range outlook, however, ties more closely to the East’s economic powerhouse, China.
Trevor Amen, an animal protein economist with CoBank, says today’s export market is concentrated around Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and South Korea. This is where 80% of current export volume goes. Last year, U.S. beef exports accounted for 11% of production, the highest level in history.
That number was helped along by sales to emerging markets like Chile, Columbia, Peru and South Africa. Trade disruptions with any of these countries, Amen notes, will have ripple effects in terms of oversupply, price pressure, and margin compression.