The Mexican government is in the process of making regulatory changes that will allow for imports of U.S. beef and beef products derived from cattle of any age, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said Monday.
The decision would lift the 30-month cattle age limit that has been in place for more than 10 years, and effectively remove the last of Mexico's BSE-related restrictions on imports of U.S. beef.
Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that while Mexico was one of the first international markets to reopen to U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months of age in March 2004, removal of the 30-month cattle age restriction has been a long time coming.
He notes that this change will open important new supply options for Mexico, where buyers have growing concerns about the impact of rising beef prices and tight supplies in a market that is very price-sensitive.
"It should have a positive impact on our ability to export more volume to this large, important market," Russell said. "Having this new option available … will be very helpful to maintain a presence in the market."
The changes in Mexico's import regulations are to be effective immediately. Shipments of over-30-month beef cannot begin until the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service updates its Export Library for Mexico, but USMEF anticipates that this process will be completed soon.
Last year Mexico was the second-largest destination for U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports in terms of volume (216,386 metric tons) and ranked third in value ($925.3 million). Through February of this year, Mexico ranks first in export volume (37,638 metric tons) and is a close second to Japan in value ($183 million).