Japan Repeats as U.S. Meat Exporters' Biggest CustomerFri, 09 Aug 2013 16:32:43 CDT
U.S. meat exports continue to improve and there is no one who is happier or more proud of that fact than Phil Seng, CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network’s Ron Hays at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver. You can listen to the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
Seng said he is most proud of the improvement in the Japanese market. It was our largest customer in 2003 and is now set to repeat that distinction in 2013.
“I think we’re really pleased with the performance we’ve had as far as the U.S. industry in Japan this year. I think even the packers and the exporters are surprised at how well it’s gone. Our numbers are up dramatically in Japan.”
Seng says one of the big reasons U.S. exports are up is confidence in the nation’s economy bolstered by its government.
“The actual demand there I would have to credit to the prime minister and his stimulus package. He’s passed a stimulus package that’s probably comparable to the package that was passed in the United States when we had our financial crisis. And, of course, pumping a lot of money into that economy has made a huge difference. And, so, it’s given the Japanese, in my opinion, a lot of confidence. They have a lot of confidence in the future going forward. And, obviously, when you feel you’re going to be better off tomorrow than you are today, it makes a big difference as far as your purchasing patterns.”
The June numbers show increasing sales for both beef and pork and that’s good news, Seng says.
“We’re very, very pleased with the performance in both the beef and the pork complex. I think that the real positive force this year has been the further opening of the Japanese market. That has been a huge boost as far as our exporters are concerned.”
While Japan has been very helpful for U.S. exporters, Seng says the USMEF is still trying to get Russian markets reopened to U.S. products. He said he hopes that we will see some indication that Russia will reopen its market to U.S. beef by the end of the year. He said short supplies due to disease concerns in domestic Russian herds could mean an increased demand for both U.S. beef and pork.
With worries in China, Japan and Russia over the use of Ractopamine, the news that Tyson will no longer accept cattle from feedlots using Zilmax has Seng a little concerned. But, he said, it bears more monitoring as U.S. products have never been barred from a market due to food safety concerns.
Seng said that the very real prospect that a farm bill will not be passed by the end of September could be problematic for farm product exporters. He said that agricultural exports have been one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy and a further delay in a permanent farm bill would only prolong the agony felt by producers and our trade partners. He said it is crucial to have stability in farm policy so that our trade partners can be secure in the knowledge the U.S. will be able to adequately supply their markets.
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