red meat

(KMAland) -- Global demand for U.S. beef remains solid following last year’s record export numbers, according to Dan Halstrom, President and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

While the cutout is higher and supplies are shorter, Halstrom says the global demand for U.S. beef remains strong.

“For the most part, price has not been an issue so far, so I think that is a testament to a lot of the work that has been done over the years, and a confidence in U.S. beef. We are definitely under, about ten percent year-to-date through May, but keep in mind that a year ago was an all-time record-high, so we’re coming of a record that will not be surpassed this year, but we still are on track where we could be second or third largest year ever on exports.”

Looking at major customers such as Japan, Korea, and China, Halstrom says the year started off with pretty high inventories, which slowed things down, but there was an uptick in volume in April and May versus the first quarter.

“Keep in mind, we just had an agreement a few weeks ago for the Longshoremen contract for the West Coast dock workers, and this was absolutely huge in my opinion because there was a certain level of uncertainty working without a contract last year. The fact that we got that agreement in place removes some of that uncertainty and I think a lot of our exporting countries can import without worries about disruption in that regard.”

Currently, Halstrom says the international retail sector is continuing to be strong as people are still eating a higher percentage of their meals at home.

“However, with that being said, there is a rebound going on in food service. I would say you are looking at a place like Japan and Korea- they are still lagging, but we are seeing progress being made. Keep in mind, it was only a year ago that the last emergency declarations were lifted on COVID in both Japan and Korea, and it was November and December before China lifted them- a full year to year and a half after the U.S. lifted theirs.”

Given that, it is not surprising that food service is still lagging in these countries, Halstrom added, but they will rebound at some point.

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