The Greatest of All Time: How 2021 was a Record-Setting Year for U.S. Beef ExportsTue, 01 Feb 2022 15:41:03 CST
So far, 2021 is the G.O.A.T. when it comes to beef exports. The final beef export report of the year is a few days away from being released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which will give the industry a complete view of the record-breaking year.
A surplus of live animals, new trade partners and more converged in 2021, presenting the U.S. beef industry with a golden opportunity that was ripe for the taking. Kent Bacus, senior director of International Trade and Market Access at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, reflected on the year with Ron Hays, senior reporter for the Oklahoma Farm Report.
"The fact that we are going to exceed $10 billion for 2021 is astounding," Bacus said. "That is a tremendous jump from the previous year, not only on a volume basis but also from a value aspect."
It all comes down to demand, of course.
"No one can compete with U.S. beef," Bacus said. "When you look at the quality and quantity of what we can sell, no one can come close."
Although Japan was the biggest importer of U.S. beef in 2021, Chinese familiarity and demand for the product continue to grow. Since African Swine Fever began to decimate China's swineherd, scarce pork supplies drove prices up and pushed consumers to reach for beef instead.
"Once they taste our product, they do not want anything else," Bacus said. "I think we are going to build on that."
Not that long ago, the Chinese market was closed to U.S. beef. The Phase One trade agreement not only opened the market to U.S. beef exports in volume but also finally recognized the safety and integrity of the U.S. beef supply chain, which streamlined the trade process.
"It was a complete shift in the regulatory approach to U.S. beef," Bacus said. "A couple of years ago, you could not legally import U.S. beef - we were banned."
As a result, China is quickly becoming one of the greatest importers of U.S. beef.
Hit the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays and Kent Bacus talk about U.S. beef export numbers ahead of the release of the last report of the year and what has helped beef exports explode in 2021.
Our coverage on the Oklahoma Farm Report of the 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and the NCBA Trade show is sponsored by Performance Beef from Zoetis. Performance Beef simplifies feed, performance and health data collection, without double data entry or complicated software. Track feed, generate real-time closeout reports, create accurate invoices, record health data at the chute, in the pen or pasture; or analyze performance trends - all in one place with ease. Try the app for yourself by clicking here.
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