America's beef abroad

When you blacken your hands with briquettes and sear some brisket for the family tonight, the same thing might be happening on a back porch in Seoul, South Korea.

International demand for US beef is up, thanks to a revamped Asian economy, continued economic prosperity in Mexico, and the belief that US beef is the safest in the world, notes Chuck Lambert, chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. During 1999, the US beef industry exported 2.45 billion pounds of beef products valued at more than $3.2 billion.

American beef eaters are also wolfing it down. Hamburger and cheeseburger servings jumped 8 percent from 1998 to 1999. Steak servings shot up 39 percent.

Cattle farmers should thank restaurant diners, who pick beef 3 to 2 over chicken, says an independent report by NPD Group, which also indicates beef servings grew from 6.3 billion in 1990 to 7.2 billion in 1999.

Agriculture Department data shows Americans eat 2.6 ounces of red meat on average each day.

Mr. Lambert, of course, doesn't see the trend slowing down.

"By 2005, exports of US beef and beef variety meats are expected to reach 3.67 billion pounds, a 64 percent increase," he says.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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