U.S. beef exports set new records in August with export value topping $750 million for the first time, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). August pork exports were fairly steady with last year’s volume, but retaliatory duties in key markets continued to pressure pork export value.
August beef exports totaled 119,850 metric tons (mt), up 7% from a year ago, valued at $751.7 million — up 11% year-over-year and easily exceeding the previous record of $722.1 million reached in May 2018. For January through August, beef exports totaled 899,300 mt, up 9% from a year ago, while value climbed 18% to $5.51 billion.
For the third consecutive month, beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in August at 95,181 mt (up 9% from a year ago), valued at $679.6 million (up 13%). Through August, muscle cut exports were 14% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (692,234 mt) and 21% higher in value ($4.93 billion).
August exports accounted for 13.2% of total beef production, up from 12.5% a year ago. For beef muscle cuts only, the percentage age exported was 11.2%, up from 10.4% last year. For January through August, exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production and 11.1% for muscle cuts — up from 12.8% and 10.1%, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $320.92 per head of fed slaughter in August, up 11% from a year ago. The January-August average was $318.66 per head, up 16%.
“U.S. beef exports continue to achieve tremendous growth, not only in our mainstay Asian markets but in the Western Hemisphere as well,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF is excited about the recent market access developments achieved by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and USDA, with favorable terms being preserved in Mexico, Canada and South Korea and trade talks getting underway with Japan. A trade agreement with Japan would bring opportunities for even greater expansion as U.S. beef becomes more affordable for Japanese consumers and is back on a level playing field with Australian beef.”
August pork export volume was down 1% from last year at 182,372 mt, while export value fell 3% to $494.1 million. Pork muscle cuts fared better in August, increasing 5% to 148,736 mt, but value still declined 1% to $414.7 million. Pork variety meat exports declined sharply in August in both volume (33,636 mt, down 20%) and value ($79.4 million, down 15%).
For January through August, combined pork and pork variety meat exports remained 1% ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.63 million mt, while value increased 3% to $4.32 billion. For pork muscle cuts only, exports increased 6% from a year ago in volume (1.31 million mt) and 4% in value ($3.58 billion).
August exports accounted for 21.9% of total pork production, down from 23.1% a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported held steady at 19.2%. For January through August, exports equaled 26.3% of total pork production (down from 26.9% a year ago), while the percentage of muscle cuts exported was 22.8% (up from 22.4%). Pork export value averaged $44.29 per head slaughtered in August, down 8% from a year ago, while the January-August per-head average dropped 1% to $53.28.
U.S. pork currently faces retaliatory duties in two markets: China and Mexico. China’s duty rate on pork muscle cuts and variety meat increased from 12 to 37% in April and from 37 to 62% in July. Mexico’s duty rate on pork muscle cuts increased from zero to 10% in June and jumped to 20% in July (pork variety meats continue to enter Mexico duty-free). Beginning in June, Mexico also imposed a 15% duty on sausages and a 20% duty on some prepared or preserved hams and shoulders.
“Pork exports have posted an impressive performance in 2018, but the retaliatory duties are a clearly a significant obstacle,” Halstrom said. “The fact that U.S. trade officials were able to secure duty-free access for U.S. red meat in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is critically important, and we are hopeful that duty-free access for U.S. pork entering Mexico will be restored soon. Tariff relief in China may not come as quickly, but USMEF continues to work with industry partners to keep as much product as possible moving to China while also working aggressively to expand exports in other key markets, including Korea, Central and South America, the ASEAN region and Australia.”
U.S. beef also currently faces retaliatory duties in two markets: China and Canada. China’s duty rate increased from 12 to 37% in July, with the higher rate applying to all eligible products. Canada’s 10% duty, which also took effect in July, applies to cooked/prepared beef products. All other U.S. beef still enters Canada duty-free.
Beef exports to Korea already near last year’s value record
August beef exports to South Korea were up 42% from a year ago in volume (24,482 mt) and set another new value record at $176.4 million (up 60%). This pushed January-August exports to 161,379 mt, up 39% from a year ago, while export value reached $1.15 billion — up 54% and just short of the 2017 full-year record of $1.22 billion. These results included a 30% increase in chilled beef exports to 35,683 mt, valued at $343.7 million (up 41%). Through August, U.S. beef accounted for 58% of Korea’s chilled imports. Under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) that took effect in 2012, Korea’s duty rate on imports of U.S. beef has declined from 40 to 21.3% and will be eliminated by 2026. These terms are preserved in the revised KORUS agreement signed Sept. 24.
Beef exports to leading market Japan climbed 8% from a year ago in August to 33,548 mt, including a post-BSE record for muscle cuts (28,863 mt). August export value was $209.3 million, up 5% from a year ago and the highest since 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 7% from a year ago in volume at 224,785 mt, while value increased 11% to $1.42 billion. This included a slight increase in chilled beef to 100,952 mt, valued at $807.2 million (up 9%). U.S. beef accounted for nearly 50% of Japan’s chilled imports through August.
For January through August, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:
- Exports to Mexico were up 1% from a year ago in volume (158,496 mt) and were 8% higher in value ($693.9 million). Mexico is the leading destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which have trended lower in recent months to fall 8% below last year’s pace at 64,642 mt. Variety meat value to Mexico remained steady with last year at $148.7 million.
- While beef shipments to China/Hong Kong slowed in the summer months, January-August exports remained 6% higher than a year ago in volume (79,584 mt) and 30% higher in value ($638.8 million). Exports to China, which reopened to U.S. beef in June of last year, were 4,580 mt valued at $39.8 million.
- Beef exports to Taiwan soared 36% above last year’s pace in volume (38,923 mt) and 40% higher in value ($359.9 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 32% in volume (15,676 mt) and 41% in value ($197.1 million), as the United States captured 74% of Taiwan’s chilled beef market — the highest share of any Asian destination.
- Strong growth in the Philippines pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 11% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (29,261 mt) and 23% higher in value ($160.7 million).
- Led by sharply higher exports to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador, export volume to Central America increased 26% from a year ago to 9,519 mt, while value climbed 22% to $51.6 million.
Japan, Korea and Latin America bolster August pork exports
August pork exports to leading value market Japan increased 10% from a year ago to 34,935 mt, valued at $146.8 million (up 5% and the highest of 2018). For January through August, exports were up 2% from a year ago in both volume (265,250 mt) and value ($1.1 billion).
Pork exports to Korea continued to surge in August, increasing 39% in volume to 11,303 mt and 40% in value to $31.3 million. This pushed January-August exports to 159,536 mt (up 43%) valued at $455.6 million (up 49%). Exports of pork variety meat, including bungs and feet, have contributed significantly to this growth. Through August, pork variety meat exports to Korea increased 84% from a year ago in volume (10,358 mt) and more than doubled in value to $32.4 million (up 111%). Most U.S. pork products enter Korea duty-free, and this will continue under the revised KORUS agreement.
August pork exports to leading volume market Mexico fell 4% from a year ago to 62,319 mt, while value dropped 21% to $103 million. Through August, exports to Mexico remained 2% ahead of last year’s record pace at 532,034 mt, but value declined 6% to $921.1 million.
August exports to the China/Hong Kong region fell 43% from a year ago to 19,732 mt, with value dropping 32% to $52.9 million. For January through August, exports were down 24% in volume (257,939 mt) and fell 13% in value to $615.9 million.
January-August highlights for U.S. pork exports include:
- Led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru, exports to South America increased 29% from a year ago in volume (82,153 mt) and 24% in value ($204.4 million). A slow start to the year kept exports to Chile below last year’s record volume pace, but shipments regained momentum in July and August.
- Following a record performance in 2017, pork exports to Central America surged 20% higher in volume (52,528 mt) and increased 17% in value ($123.8 million). Pork exports to all seven Central American nations have achieved double-digit growth in 2018.
- Exports to the Dominican Republic continue to gain momentum, increasing 30% in volume (29,480 mt) and 25% in value ($64.5 million).
- Led by strong growth in the Philippines and Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region increased 29% in volume (39,021 mt) and 28% in value ($100.1 million). The ASEAN is an especially important destination for pork variety meat, with these exports nearly doubling from a year ago in both volume (14,273 mt, up 99%) and value ($24.2 million, up 94%).
- Exports to Australia were 9% ahead of last year’s record pace in both volume (51,070 mt) and value ($147.5 million). Australia is the third-largest destination for U.S. hams exported for further processing, trailing only Mexico and China/Hong Kong.
Lamb variety meat exports surge in August, but muscle cuts trend lower
August exports of U.S. lamb reached the largest monthly volume this year (1,353 mt, up 105% from a year ago), due primarily to large shipments of lamb variety meat to Mexico. August export value was just under $2 million, up 16% year-over-year. Lamb muscle cut exports took a step back in August, totaling just 142 mt – down 32% from a year ago and the lowest since January.
Through August, lamb exports were 60% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (8,033 mt) and 20% higher in value ($15.4 million). This growth was fueled mainly by stronger variety meat demand in Mexico, but muscle cut exports increased significantly to the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and the Philippines.