Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2001


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XVII December 11, 12, and 13, 2001- Casper, Wyoming.


The international market for U.S. beef has grown dramatically in the past decade to the benefit of beef producers. In 1990 U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports amounted to 508,109 metric tons worth $1.88 billion. By 2000 U.S. beef and beef variety exports grew to 1,237,000 metric tons worth $3.6 billion.

Why is the international market important to beef producers? There are several examples that demonstrate the importance of the export market to U.S. beef producers. U.S. beef exports represented 13% of production in 2000. This is equivalent to 2.7 billion pounds. 2000 was also the first year the U.S. became the largest beef and beef variety meat exporting country in the world, surpassing Australia. Without the export market the domestic market would have to absorb this product into our marketing channels.

There is a perception that the export market is primarily an outlet for U.S. middle meats, which could be easily consumed domestically. This perception is false. The export market is an outlet for beef products that are not readily consumed in the U.S. When dividing the carcass into rounds and chucks, middle meats, thin meats (briskets, short plate, short ribs and flanks), and variety meats, thin meats and variety meats make up the largest exports by volume, 31% each. Middle meats, such as ribeyes, strip loins, and tenderloins only make up 11%. Rounds and chucks make up the remaining 27%.