USDA export numbers compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation show U.S. beef exports in 2018 topped both volume and value records that were set in 2017. Pork export volume came up just shy of the 2017 record and the value also fell one percent.
Strong demand in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Asian region helped drive beef exports seven percent higher in 2018, coming in at 1.35 million metric tons. Export value climbed to $8.33 billion, 15 percent higher than in 2017.
“There may have been no greater success story than U.S. beef exports to Korea,” says Dan Halstrom, USMEF CEO. “Less than a decade removed from the street protests opposing the reopening of the market, Koreans now consume more U.S. beef per capita than any international destination.” Korea drove half the $1 billion surge in beef exports.
Exports to Japan climbed seven percent in volume and 10 percent in value. However, Halstrom says that the U.S. position as the number one beef supplier in Japan is tenuous because of the widening tariff rate gap between America and its main competitors. 2018 pork exports totaled 2.44 million metric tons, .5 percent below the 2017 record. Pork value dipped one percent to $6.39 billion.
Retaliatory tariffs in place because of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum hurt pork exports in the second half of 2018.