U.S. beef exports for 2010 are forecast at 2.3 billion pounds, 19 percent higher than 2009 levels. Exports through October were 17 percent higher year-over-year. As in September, the United States was a net exporter of beef during the month of October. On a volume basis, U.S. exports rarely exceeded imports prior to December 2003 and have done so only on a few occasions since then.

Through October, U.S. exports show a recovery of 91 percent of pre-BSE levels after the posting of year-over-year growth of 25 percent to Japan and 119 percent to South Korea. In 2003, Japan and South Korea combined were responsible for 60 percent of U.S. beef exports. Through October, the share of exports for Japan and South Korea is 28 percent, suggesting that increased exports to these countries do not fully explain the significant gain towards pre-BSE levels achieved this year.

Exports to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Egypt, and other countries, including Russia, have also helped to significantly boost 2010 total U.S. export levels closer to the historical levels posted in 2003. Exports to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Egypt were 46, 51, and 101 percent higher, year-over-year, and along with sales to Vietnam and Russia, constituted 23 percent of total U.S. beef exports through October.

Fourth-quarter exports this year are expected to show over 25-percent growth, reaching 650 million pounds. Annual beef exports in 2011 are forecast at 2.3 billion pounds, with quarterly year-over-year growth expected to continue through the first half of the year.