March bright spots for US beef include Caribbean, Middle East, Mexico – USMEF

March was one of the best months ever for US beef exports to the Caribbean, where shipments climbed 16% from a year ago to 3,398 mt – the third largest on record, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Export value was the second highest on record, climbing 12% to $31.1 million.

This performance was led by record-large exports to the Dominican Republic, which increased 17% from a year ago to 1,238 mt. Export value to the DR soared 30% to a record $15.4 million. First quarter exports to the Caribbean increased 18% in volume (9,037 mt) and 14% in value ($76.4 million). In addition to the DR’s strong performance, first quarter exports increased to the Netherlands Antilles, Leeward-Windward Islands, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Turks and Caicos Islands. Beef variety meats achieved dramatic growth in Trinidad and Tobago.

Following a down year in 2023, the Middle East region’s demand for US beef rebounded impressively in the first quarter. March exports totaled 5,342 mt, up 30% from a year ago, while export value climbed 22% to $22.2 million. First quarter exports to the region increased 41% from a year ago to 14,562 mt, valued at $61.5 million (up 40%). Much of this growth is attributable to larger beef variety meat shipments to Egypt, where March exports were the highest since December 2022. But muscle cut exports also increased dramatically to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar and trended higher to Israel, Bahrain and Jordan. 

Although March beef export volume to Mexico fell below the year-ago level for the first time in 15 months, the market still posted a solid performance. March shipments to Mexico totalled 16,628 mt, down 5% from a year ago, while export value increased 3% to $100.2 million. First quarter exports to Mexico increased 12% year-over-year to 56,499 mt, while export value jumped 18% to $333.5 million. Since gaining access last year, Brazil has emerged as the second largest supplier of beef to Mexico.