Tremendous export opportunities exist outside US for grains, red meat as world economies grow


Teresa Clark for The Fence Post

February 7, 2019


In the past 50 years, meat consumption has increased in countries like South Korea ten-fold. In 1970, residents there consumed slightly more than 11 pounds of meat proteins a year, but today they are well beyond 100 pounds.


"Their economy has grown to where they can afford to pay for product and its available," according to John Hinners, vice president of industry relations for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Hinners spoke about export opportunities for the U.S. during an Ag Spotlight presentation at the Colorado Farm Show that was recently held in Greeley.


Emerging markets like South Korea are important to U.S. agriculture because production in this country exceeds what it can consume. "According to CattleFax data, each of us would need to consume another 40 pounds of red meat each year just to keep up with our production," Hinners said.


Exports are also positive for U.S. grain producers. "Eleven percent of the value of a bushel of grain can be attributed to exports," Hinners said. In fact, the National Corn Growers Association is promoting the value of grain exported through beef and pork through a new video, which explains that the value of meat exports adds 39 cents a bushel to corn.


Other countries are also seeking out U.S. meat and grains. "We have a tremendous opportunity for pork in China right now. They are a big pork eating country," Hinners said. "But, our underlying success is in our ability to export variety meats to other countries that are willing to pay more for them than U.S. consumers." In fact, more than 90 percent of pork tongue, heart, liver, kidney, stomach, bladder and uterus are currently exported to other countries as variety meats. Most of this product is shipped to countries in northern Asia and Mexico.


Beef exports also experienced another record year in 2018, accounting for 11.1 percent of production, and 13.5 percent, when variety meat exports were added. The figures were up from 10.2 percent, and 12.8 percent in 2017. From January to October 2018, the export value of a single beef carcass averaged $320.50 a head, which was up 15 percent from 2017. U.S. exports for beef and variety meats were $6.923 billion from January through October of 2018, which was up 17 percent from the same period in 2017.


Hinners said they have done a lot of education in places like South Korea, which has developed into a big market for U.S. beef. However, Hinners is worried that the U.S. will alienate customers during trade talks. "If we continue to alienate our customers, they will look south to countries like Brazil and Mexico. It is concerning to me," he said.


Kim Atkins, who is vice president and COO for the U.S. Grains Council in Washington, D.C., also sees the potential for tremendous growth outside U.S. borders. Atkins spoke about international grain exports during her presentation. Countries like Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have growing economies and will be looking for better products to feed their populations.