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U.S. beef exports have bounced back from the pandemic disruptions last year.  Total beef exports for the January – June period in 2021 are up 21.5 percent over the first six months of 2020.  This includes a 46.2 percent year over year increase for the month of June over the low point last year.  Compared to 2019, year to date beef exports are up 12.1 percent this year.  Total beef imports for the first six months of 2021 are down 3.7 percent year over year and down slightly by 0.8 percent over the same period in 2019.

Japan remains the largest export market for U.S. beef with a 24.6 percent share of year-to-date U.S. beef exports.  South Korea is closing fast on Japan with a 24.1 percent share of beef exports for the first six months of 2021.  The China/Hong Kong market continues to be the fastest growing beef export market with June exports up 159.3 percent year over year and beef exports for the January – June period up 167 percent over 2019 and 2020 China/Hong Kong is the third largest beef export market with a 17.9 percent share of total beef exports.  So far in 2021, Mexico accounts for 9.5 percent of exports; Canada 8.1 percent and Taiwan, 5.5 percent.

Canada is the largest source of beef imports accounting for 28.2 percent of total beef imports for the January – June period.  Mexico accounts for 20.4 percent of year-to-date imports, with New Zealand at a 17.7 percent share; Australia, an 11.9 percent share and Brazil an 8.8 percent share of total beef imports.   

Total cattle imports so far in 2021 are down 19.1 percent year over year and down 20.2 percent compared to 2019.  Total feeder cattle imports from Mexico and Canada of the year are down 18.3 percent for the first six months compared to last year (down 21.7 percent compared to 2019).  Slaughter cattle imports from Canada are down 21.6 percent year over year for the year to date and down 15.7 percent compared to the first six months of 2019.

Total cattle exports to Canada and Mexico are up 111.7 percent year over year and up 129.1 percent from 2019.  For the year to date, cattle exports to Canada equal 78.4 percent of cattle imports from Canada meaning that net imports of cattle from Canada so far in 2021 are 59,340 head.  Cattle exports to Mexico are up 385.3 percent thus far in 2021 (up 143.9 percent compared to 2019) and represent 4.7 percent of total cattle imports from Mexico. 

(Derrell S. Peel is a livestock marketing specialist for Oklahoma State University.)

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