Exports to China Continue to Climb Not at the Expense of Other Markets

Demand for U.S. beef in China continues to move at a brisk pace.

U.S. Meat Export Federation economist Erin Borror says U.S. beef exports to China are “soaring”, but not at the expense of other major markets like Korea or Japan.

“This is where it gets exciting because China’s demand for grain fed beef is still mostly separate from the large volumes of weaned product, which are still the biggest share of China’s imports. But grain fed is accounting for roughly ten percent of China’s imports, that’s up from like four percent last year.  And you have the U.S. as essentially the dominate supplier on the grain fed side.”

Borror noted China’s imports of U.S. beef in 2020 climbed to $310 million, thanks to the implementation of the Phase One trade agreement. That trend, she says, accelerated into 2021, pushing close to 200,000 metric tons and $1.6 billion worth of U.S. beef to China.

“When we combine China and Hong Kong, we’re probably going to see U.S. exports reach $2 billion this year. So that China/Hong Kong market joins Japan and Korea in a $2 billion club. That puts total U.S. beef exports right close to that $10 billion mark. So, we’re not taking product away from our other major customers and that is definitely important.”

Currently, less than three percent of U.S. exports are bound for China, while for Brazil that figure is closer to 16 percent, roughly 20 percent for Argentina, and over 40 percent of New Zealand’s exports are shipped to China.

Borror says that stat can either indicate the lack of dependency on China, or the room for potential growth for U.S. beef exports.