Beef is an important component of a healthy diet, providing protein and essential vitamins and minerals to billions of people. Cattle raising and beef production provides income to farmers and ranchers around the world, along with significant employment and revenue to food manufacturers and ancillary industries.
Key facts about the global beef market:
- The US is the world’s largest beef producer, estimated by IHS Markit at 12.3 million metric tonnes in 2019 and about 20% of total global output. Brazil is the second largest producer at 10.2 million metric tonnes, the wider European Union produces 7.9m million metric tonnes and China at 6.9 million metric tonnes.
- Brazil is the largest beef exporter, estimated at 2.4 mmt in 2019, followed by 1.8 MMT out of Australia, 1.6 mmt from India (including buffalo meat) and 1.4 mmt from the US. These four countries account for more than 60% of global beef exports.
- In the last two years, China has become the leading beef importer, with an estimated volume of 2.3 mmt in 2019. The US is second largest at 1.4 mmt, followed by Japan at 0.9 mmt and South Korea at 0.6 mmt.
- The largest beef processing and manufacturing companies include JBS SA, Tyson Foods, Cargill Protein, Hormel Foods and Marfrig SA.
- Frenzied buying by China in 2019 resulted in lean boneless beef prices reaching record levels in the international market. However, subsequent consumer resistance to the higher prices in China and problems with movement of people and products due to the coronavirus have resulted in prices dropping by 30% from those highs.