Canadian beef exports will increase slightly this year despite the cattle industry’s decline, as exports to Mexico and Asia offset fewer shipments to the United States, a top export official said Feb. 18.
Farmers and ranchers have downsized their herds of hogs and cattle to the smallest levels in more than a decade due to high feed costs, a strong Canadian dollar and a U. S. meat-labelling law that has reduced livestock exports to the United States.
Canadian beef shipments topped 414,000 tonnes in 2009, a less than one per cent increase over the previous year but an encouraging sign given the implementation of the U. S. country of origin labelling law for meat, which has discouraged imports by packers and retailers.
“We were able to end up in a stable year when by almost any other measurement the economy went backwards,” said Ted Haney, president of the Canada Beef Export Federation. “It absolutely is an amazing outcome.”
In 2010, Canadian beef exporters plan to ship 421,000 tonnes of beef, a 1.7 per cent increase over last year, Haney said. They expect to ship 306,000 tonnes to the United States – a four per cent reduction because of the labelling law.
Shippers will send an estimated 19 per cent more beef, or 100,000 tonnes in total, to Asia and Mexico combined, he said. Mexico is coming off a year in which the H1N1 flu held back beef consumption, while Japan and Taiwan are buying more.
A new age-verification system in Alberta produced more cattle last year to supply Japan, which accepts Canadian beef from animals under 21 months.