Earlier this year, Hong Kong agreed to expand US beef imports by allowing imports of beef from cattle younger than 30 months of age. The move was somewhat overshadowed by Japan’s long-awaited change allowing beef from US cattle up to 30 months of age. While Hong Kong was already taking beef from under 30 month cattle, access for U.S. beef was limited to boneless cuts only. The regulatory change made in February expanded access to include most bone-in cuts from cattle under 30 months of age, as well as boneless cuts from all U.S. cattle.
Since then, beef sales to this major Chinese port have risen sharply. Joel Haggard, with the US Meat export Federation in Hong Kong, says beef sales to Hong Kong are booming, “Export volume (through July) has doubled from a year ago to more than 60,000 metric tons. Export value is up 128 percent to $368.4 million and has already set a full calendar year record.”
While US beef prices have risen, the fact that Hong Kong is a zero duty port is keeping US beef prices competitive in what is a very competitive market. In the past, most US beef was used for the high quality steak market. Haggard says more and more beef cuts from other parts of the animal are making inroads into the Asian food sector, “While US beef continues to perform very well in Hong Kong’s high-end steakhouses, it is now available to a much broader range of consumers.” He said many Asian restaurants are now using US beef cuts. So, when you go to Asia and eat Asian food, you may actually be eating a bit of home.