Mexico has recently become the fourth largest source of U.S. beef imports. Imports of Mexican beef have been increasing annually since 2009, according to Drovers CattleNetwork.

Data within the Import Genius international trade database indicates this growth. Beef imports from Mexico increased significantly from 2009 to 2010 and then remained rather steady for both 2010 and 2011. In 2012, beef imports from Mexico skyrocketed. While 2011 saw about 400 shipments on record, the number of shipments increased four times the amount in 2011, with over 1600 on record last year. 40% of all Mexican beef exports were shipped to the U.S. in 2012.

According to the Import Genius pulse tool, which indicates trends among U.S. product imports, beef imports have been on the rise since September 2012. Imports peaked in March this year with over 3,200 shipments received. Since then, numbers have slightly fallen within the last few months but this shouldn’t have a large effect on the remaining import volume of this year.

“U.S. imports of Mexican beef are up again so far in 2013 and are on pace to increase another 30 percent by the end of the year,” as reported by Drovers CattleNetwork. So far this year, over 300 shipments containing beef have been imported from Mexico according to ImportGenius data. In addition to supplying beef to the U.S., Mexico also exports mainly to Japan, Russia and South Korea.

Besides Mexico, several other areas in the Southeastern region of the world are also major players when it comes to supplying beef to the U.S. Looking into U.S. beef imports in Import Genius’ data over the last 6 months, New Zealand has been the most prominent supplier exporting nearly 6900 shipments to the U.S. since early December 2012. Australia has been the second largest supplier exporting over 1600 shipments since late last year. The Dominican Republic’s beef exports come in third compared to those more dominant areas.

Mexico has consistently been a source for imported feeder cattle, and experts think a system shift may be responsible for greater demand for Mexican beef. “The dramatic increase in Mexican beef exports is the result of a rapid conversion of the Mexican beef industry from a carcass to a boxed beef marketing system.  This has opened new market opportunities in both domestic and international beef markets.”

While Mexico has been expanding its exports to the U.S., the opposite has happened in terms of U.S. beef exports. Numbers have actually declined over the last 5 years since 2008 and are continuing to decrease this year. These numbers may begin to stabilize towards the end of 2013. Mexican beef prices have been on the rise while the price of beef sold domestically in Mexico is becoming more comparable to U.S. beef. “U.S beef exports to Mexico are likely to level off and could recover some of the recent declines in the face of expected decreased domestic beef production in Mexico in the next couple of years.”

Source: Changes in U.S.-Mexican cattle and beef trade