With China set to begin importing U.S. beef no later than July 16th, America’s robust beef export market will sparkle even more. For the first quarter of 2017, U.S. beef export tonnage was up 22% from a year ago and the value of those exports was up 23%.
We know that some of the U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan have been going to China already. I am not sure if we can put an exact amount on those “trans-shipments.” In 2016, our beef exports to Hong Kong were 294 million lbs. or 12% of total U.S. beef exports, while 137 million lbs. were shipped to Taiwan, or 5% of the total. Year-to-date through March, exports to Hong Kong were 66 million lbs., down 16% from a year ago. U.S. shipments to Taiwan were 30 million lbs. and 24% higher than the prior year.
China’s announcement would further add U.S. beef to those trans-shipments and will go directly from the U.S. to China.
There a couple of major points for consideration before we begin shipping beef to China. First, the U.S. must agree upon food safety considerations with regard to poultry. This concerns both the importing of cooked chicken from China and exporting chicken to China.
The second issue is China’s requirement for source and age verification for U.S. beef, a food safety concern and ultimately their reason for stopping importing U.S. beef in 2004 following BSE.
In addition to age and source verification, China may also may demand hormone-free and/or GMO free beef. Non-GMO has been a major consideration for other agricultural product shipments to China. While GMOs are not directly specific to beef, the issue concerns feed. We can meet either or both stipulations.