US beef exports remained on a record shattering value pace in October, according to data released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the Denver, Colorado-based US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). October pork exports trended seasonally higher compared to recent months, but were still below the results posted in October of 2017. Lamb export volume in October more than doubled year-over-year, while value increased nearly 50 percent.
October beef exports totaled 117,838 metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from a year ago, valued at $727.4 million – up 10 percent and the second-highest monthly total on record. For January through October, beef exports totaled 1.13 million mt, up 9 percent year-over-year, while value was up 17 percent to $6.92 billion. For beef muscle cuts only, exports increased 12 percent in volume (867,714 mt) and 19 percent in value ($6.19 billion).
Exports accounted for 13 percent of total beef production in October, which was steady with last year, and 11.6 percent for muscle cuts only (down slightly). For January through October, exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total production and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively, last year. Beef export value equated to $317.53 per head of fed slaughter in October, up 5 percent from a year ago. For January through October, the per-head average was up 15 percent to $320.50.
“Demand for US beef continues to climb in nearly every region of the world, with annual records already falling in some markets,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and chief executive officer. “Per-head export value will also easily set a new record in 2018, which illustrates the strong returns exports are delivering for cattle producers and for the entire supply chain.”
October pork export volume was 207,725 mt, the largest since May but still 2 percent lower year-over-year, reflecting smaller variety meat exports. Export value ($536.5 million) was also the largest since May, but still down 5 percent from a year ago. For January through October, pork exports were 1 percent above last year’s record pace at 2.02 million mt, while value was also up 1 percent to $5.33 billion. For pork muscle cuts only, January-October exports increased 5 percent from a year ago in volume (1.63 million mt), valued at $4.43 billion (up 2 percent).
October exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total pork production, down from 25.4 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 20.7 percent – down from 21.6 percent in October 2017. For January through October, pork exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total production, down from 26.4 percent last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22 to 22.5 percent. Export value per head slaughtered was down 10 percent from a year ago in October to $46.07. The January-October average was $51.74, down 2 percent.
“Despite some very significant obstacles, global demand dynamics for US pork remain strong,” said Halstrom. “We are hopeful that the recent signing of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the return of trade negotiations between the US and China represent progress toward elimination of retaliatory duties imposed by key trading partners. If we can put that situation behind us, US pork is well-positioned to regain the momentum displayed early in the year.”
Halstrom added that upcoming trade negotiations with Japan are critical for the US pork and beef industries, as all major competitors in the Japanese market will soon benefit from significant tariff reductions. USMEF, along with producers, exporters and other industry organizations, submitted comments to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) underscoring the importance and urgency of these negotiations and conveyed these points again during USTR’s Dec. 10 public hearing.
‘Bullish’ Beef Sales in Asia
Beef exports to South Korea, which had already set a new annual value record through September, remained on a torrid pace as October exports reached 20,171 mt (up 17 percent from a year ago) valued at $153.1 million (up 25 percent). January-October exports advanced 35 percent in volume (200,666 mt) and 47 percent in value ($1.44 billion). These results included a 21 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 44,440 mt, valued at $431 million (up 31 percent). While Korea’s imports from Australia and New Zealand have also edged higher in 2018, US beef’s market share has increased significantly, jumping from 49 to 53 percent.
October beef exports to leading market Japan were up 12 percent from a year ago in volume (26,954 mt) and 13 percent higher in value ($166.8 million). For January through October, exports to Japan were up 7 percent from a year ago in volume (279,825 mt) while value increased 10 percent to $1.76 billion. Chilled beef exports to Japan were down 1 percent to 123,712 mt, but value increased 8 percent to $990 million.
For January through October, other highlights for US beef exports include:
- Beef exports to Taiwan were up 34 percent from a year ago in volume (49,135 mt), while value reached $455.3 million – up 36 percent and already easily surpassing last year’s annual record of $409.7 million.
- Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 30 percent in volume (19,878 mt) and 35 percent in value ($249 million), as the United States captured more than 75 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market – the highest market share of any Asian destination.
- Exports to the Philippines soared 29 percent in volume to 14,751 mt and reached $72.4 million in value – up 35 percent and setting a new annual record. Solid growth in Vietnam also helped push beef exports to the ASEAN region 14 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (39,719 mt) and 26 percent higher in value ($218.1 million).
- Exports to Mexico rose 1 percent from a year ago in volume (199,003 mt) and 8 percent higher in value ($879.2 million). Beef muscle cut exports to Mexico have shown particularly strong momentum in 2018, increasing 8 percent in volume (118,177 mt) and 11 percent in value ($691.6 million).
- Although October volume trended lower, January-October exports to China/Hong Kong were still 4 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (102,545 mt) and 24 percent higher in value ($823.5 million). This included exports to China of 5,677 mt valued at $48.6 million.
- Growth in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas contributed to a 9 percent increase in the Caribbean region as exports reached 21,455 mt. Value was up 4 percent to $135.4 million.
- Led by strong growth in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua, beef exports to Central America increased 18 percent year-over-year in volume (11,923 mt) and 14 percent in value ($64.6 million).
US Pork Record in Korea
Pork exports to South Korea continued to gain momentum in October, increasing 27 percent from a year ago in volume (19,588 mt) and 17 percent in value ($49.2 million). January-October exports to Korea increased 41 percent in volume (191,610 mt) and 44 percent in value ($538.4 million) – already topping the annual records set in 2011. Even as imports from all main suppliers have expanded this year, US share of Korea’s pork imports has increased significantly, rising from 36 to 39 percent.
October pork exports to leading value market Japan totaled 35,134 mt, up 8 percent from a year ago, while export value climbed 9 percent to $146.6 million. This pushed January-October exports 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (330,480 mt) and 3 percent higher in value ($1.36 billion). This included a slight decrease in chilled pork volume (176,118 mt) while value was up 2 percent to $849 million. U.S. share of Japan’s pork imports held close to 35 percent, down slightly from last year.
But Japan imported a record volume of ground-seasoned pork from the European Union in October and US share in that category has dropped from 71 to 65 percent in 2018. This trend is likely to continue with upcoming implementation of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will reduce tariffs on all pork and phase the import duty on ground seasoned pork to zero over the next six years.
Led by strong growth in the Philippines and Vietnam, October pork exports to the ASEAN region increased 91 percent in volume (9,009 mt) and 59 percent in value ($22 million). January-October exports increased 46 percent in volume (58,415 mt) and 33 percent in value ($145.5 million). This was fueled in part by a surge in pork variety meat exports to the region, which more than doubled in both volume (24,090 mt, up 149 percent) and value ($39 million, up 126 percent).
Other January-October results for US pork exports include:
- Pork exports to South America, led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru and a rebound in exports to Chile, reached 106,444 mt – up 25 percent and already surpassing last year’s annual record. Export value was up 19 percent to $259.9 million.
- Although October results slowed from a year ago, January-October exports to Central America still increased 17 percent in volume (66,428 mt) and 13 percent in value ($156.6 million). Exports increased to leading markets Honduras and Guatemala and were sharply higher to Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
- Exports to the Dominican Republic have already exceeded annual records in both volume (36,022 mt, up 36 percent) and value ($78.4 million, up 29 percent).
- Exports to Australia rose 10 percent to 61,994 mt, with value climbing 8 percent to $178.8 million. Australia is a critical market for U.S. hams, especially with retaliatory duties in place in Mexico and China.
- Despite a fifth straight month in which pork shipments were below year-ago levels, exports to leading volume market Mexico were still steady with last year’s record pace at 656,284 mt. But export value, pressured by the retaliatory duties first imposed in June, declined by 9 percent to $1.12 billion.
- Exports to China/Hong Kong declined 27 percent from a year ago to 302,151 mt, with value dropping 16 percent to $730 million. China/Hong Kong is the largest destination for pork variety meat exports, which were down 28 percent in volume (194,472 mt) and 15 percent in value ($512.4 million).
Lamb Exports Solid
October exports of US lamb more than doubled from a year ago to 1,161 mt (up 107 percent). Export value was also strong, climbing 48 percent to $1.96 million. Lamb muscle cut exports were 207 mt in October, up 20 percent from a year ago, valued at $1.13 million (up 27 percent).
Through the first 10 months of the year, lamb exports were 69 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (10,371 mt) and 19 percent higher in value ($19 million). While the increase is mainly attributable to stronger variety meat demand in Mexico, muscle cut exports were sharply higher to the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and the Philippines.