Port of Oakland beef exports on the rise
US beef exports through the Port of Oakland have risen sharply this year despite shipping disruptions that have hampered global supply chains.
According to the port, its beef exports – which are almost exclusively to Asia – increased 25% between January and July.
“The demand for high quality American meat products is off the charts,” said Bryan Brandes, Port of Oakland marine director. “We are in the best position to help US exporters meet this demand.
According to data released today, Oakland exported the equivalent of 25,200 20-foot containers (TEUs) of beef through July, up from 20,100 TEUs for the same period last year. The port estimated the total value of beef exports at $ 1.5 billion in the first seven months of 2021.
Asian markets received almost all of the beef exported from Oakland this year, measured by container volume, the port said. The percentage breakdown by country: Japan, 55%; China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), 24%; and South Korea, 19%.
The port said growing demand for American beef in China was behind the boom in exports. Beef produced in the United States accounts for 5% of all containerized exports to China. COVID-related restrictions on restaurant meals have triggered an increase in retail beef sales in Asia, the port said.
The port said the rise in beef exports validated its investments in the international cold chain. Oakland has significantly increased its handling capacity for refrigerated and frozen goods over the past five years. Producers in California and the Midwest are shipping tons of beef to Oakland in railcars. Products are transferred from temperature-controlled storage facilities in the heart of Oakland Seaport to containers, then move down the street to waiting ships.
Oakland is the main US gateway for beef exports to Asia. This is because most ships make Oakland their last stop in North America before returning to Asia. Beef spends less time on a ship if it is loaded in Oakland rather than other US ports.
The port credited U.S. beef producers with supporting the export boom despite shipping challenges, as shortages of containers and vessel space continue to restrict exports.