Tag Archives: USMEF

April exports of U.S. beef and pork were lower than a year ago while U.S. lamb exports continued their upward trend, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 105,241 metric tons (mt) in April, down 5% year-over-year, though export value was down only slightly at $674.2 million. For January through April, exports were 4% below last year’s record pace in volume (412,547 mt) and 1% lower in value ($2.58 billion).

On a per-head basis, beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $305.61 (down 7% from April 2018). The January-April average was $308.34 per head, down 3% from a year ago. April exports accounted for 12.5% of total U.S. beef production and 10.2% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.1% and 11.3%, respectively, a year ago. For January through April, these ratios were 12.7% and 10.2% (down from 13.4% and 10.8%).

Pork exports totaled 216,757 mt in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $535.2 million (down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year’s pace in volume (817,025 mt) and were down 12% in value to just over $2 billion.

Pork export value averaged $50.58 per head slaughtered in April, down 13% from a year ago but the highest in 10 months. For January through April, export value averaged $47.25 per head, down 15% from the same period last year. April exports accounted for 26.6% of total U.S. pork production and 23.3% for muscle cuts only – down from 29.9% and 25.8%, respectively, in April 2018. January-April exports accounted for 24.9% of total pork production (down from 27.4%) and 21.8% for muscle cuts (down from 23.7%).

Beef demand strong in Korea and Taiwan; Japan edges lower

South Korea remains the export growth leader for U.S. beef, with April volume up 18% to 22,584 mt. April value surged 22% to $164.3 million, surpassing Japan as the month’s leading value market. January-April exports to Korea were 11% ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (78,757 mt) and climbed 15% higher in value ($578.5 million). U.S. share of Korea’s total beef imports climbed to 47.5%, up a full percentage point from last year. U.S. share of Korea’s chilled beef imports reached 60%.

Taiwan is also coming off a record year for U.S. beef exports and posted a strong April at 5,118 mt (up 15% from a year ago) valued at $47.9 million (up 14%). Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 18,605 mt (up 6%) valued at $165.6 million (down 2%).

In Japan, where all of U.S. beef’s major competitors have gained tariff relief in 2019, April exports were down 6% from a year ago in both volume (24,149 mt) and value ($156.8 million). Export volume through April was steady with last year’s pace at 98,296 mt while value increased 2% to $637.2 million. U.S. market share in Japan is still more than 41%, but this is down from nearly 45% in the first four months of 2017. For chilled beef, U.S. share has slipped two percentage points to 47.4%. In April, Japan’s imports from Mexico more than tripled year-over-year and imports also increased from Canada (up 52%), New Zealand (up 41%) and Australia (up 9%) as competitors of U.S. beef benefited from lower tariff rates.

“U.S. beef is holding its own in Japan, but the April numbers are telling,” cautioned USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “With the April 1 rate cut, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Mexican beef are now subject to a 26.6% duty while the rate for U.S. beef remains at 38.5%. It is absolutely essential that the U.S. secures an agreement that will level this playing field. U.S. beef’s exceptional growth in Korea is a great example of what’s possible when tariffs are less of an obstacle.”

Other January-April highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • Beef exports to Mexico continue to post strong results, especially for muscle cuts. Combined beef/beef variety meat exports through April were 2% below last year’s pace at 76,870 mt, but value increased 9% to $372.4 million. For muscle cuts only, exports to Mexico climbed 8% from a year ago in volume (47,379 mt) and 11% in value ($293.3 million).
  • Strong growth in the Philippines fueled a 20% increase in beef exports to the ASEAN region as volume reached 17,770 mt, valued at $86.9 million (up 6%). Export volume also trended higher to Indonesia and Vietnam.
  • An exceptional performance in the Dominican Republic is fueling a strong year for U.S. beef in the Caribbean. Exports to the Dominican Republic soared 56% above last year’s pace in volume (3,068 mt) and 50% higher in value ($25 million). The Caribbean was up 16% in volume (9,826 mt) and 18% in value ($65.2 million) with exports also trending higher for Jamaica and the Bahamas.
  • Exports to Hong Kong slipped 36% from a year ago in volume (27,825 mt) and were 29% lower in value ($236.6 million). Despite a 25% retaliatory duty, U.S. beef exports to China increased 5% to 2,417 mt, but value was down 15% to $18.2 million as most of the tariff cost was borne by U.S. suppliers. China’s beef imports already eclipsed $2 billion through the first four months of this year, up 54% from last year’s record pace, but the U.S. holds less than 1% of China’s booming beef import market.
  • Exports to Canada were down 15% in volume to 31,070 mt and 14% in value to just under $200 million. Demand has been impacted by larger Canadian beef production in 2019, but elimination of the 10% retaliatory duty on prepared beef products from the U.S. will help exports in this important category rebound.

Latin America, Oceania, Taiwan bolster pork exports

On May 20, the 20% retaliatory duty on most U.S. pork entering Mexico was removed, as the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached an agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs. This was obviously too late to boost April pork exports to Mexico, which sank 30% from a year ago in volume (54,971 mt) and 29% in value to $94.5 million. For January through April, exports to Mexico were down 18% in volume (232,391 mt) and 29% in value ($356.5 million).

“Lifting of Mexico’s retaliatory duties was the most welcome news the U.S. pork industry has received in a long time,” Halstrom said. “Now let’s hope the duty-free access U.S. pork has enjoyed in Mexico since late May isn’t short-lived.”

President Trump has proposed a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico unless more steps are taken to curb illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The tariff would take effect June 10 and increase to 25% by Oct. 1, but negotiations are ongoing and Mexico has not yet announced any retaliatory measures.

U.S. pork also faces a significant disadvantage in China, where retaliatory duties remain in effect and competitors are positioning to fill China’s looming African swine fever-driven pork shortfall. January-April exports to China/Hong Kong were 16% below last year’s pace in volume (128,200 mt) and down 32% in value ($242 million).

Leading value market Japan has not imposed any new tariffs on U.S. pork but its main competitors (European, Canadian and Mexican pork) have gained tariff relief in 2019. January-April exports of U.S. pork to Japan were down 7% from a year ago in volume (123,166 mt) and fell 9% in value ($493.3 million), as U.S. share of Japan’s total imports fell from 36% last year to 32%. The sharpest decline was in Japan’s imports of U.S. ground seasoned pork, which were down nearly $40 million.

January-April highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • A strong performance in mainstay market Colombia and excellent growth in Chile and Peru drove exports to South America 44% above last year’s record pace in volume (57,005 mt) and 42% higher in value ($136.9 million). In Colombia, where USMEF has helped bolster demand for U.S. pork through promotional campaigns, educational seminars and enhanced efforts to overcome technical barriers, exports climbed 25% from a year ago to 37,283 mt valued at $79.6 million (up 17%). Last year, even with domestic production on the rise, the Colombian market took more than $215 million in U.S. pork, more than double the value exported in 2016.
  • Exports to Central America are also coming off a record year in 2018 and climbed 11% in volume (29,321 mt) and 8% in value ($68.3 million), led by growth in Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica.
  • April exports to Australia were the largest of 2019, pushing January-April volume to 37,979 mt (up 37% from last year’s record pace) valued at $98.6 million (up 21%). Exports to New Zealand are also performing extremely well in 2019, climbing 53% in volume (3,390 mt) and 36% in value ($10.1 million). Oceania is a strong region for U.S. hams used for further processing, which is especially important at a time when ham exports to Mexico and China were being pressured by tariffs.
  • Despite facing ractopamine-related restrictions in Taiwan, exports increased 80% in volume (8,819 mt) and 55% in value ($19.3 million). Exports to Taiwan slumped in 2016 but have been rebounding over the past 2½ years.

Momentum continues to grow for U.S. lamb

Strong variety meat demand in Mexico and muscle cut growth in the Caribbean, the Middle East and Panama have fueled an upward trend in U.S. lamb exports. April exports totaled 1,227 mt, up 26% from a year ago, while value was up 15% to $2.2 million. For January-April, exports were up 56% year-over-year in volume (5,400 mt) and up 26% in value ($9.1 million). Muscle cut exports were up 17% in volume to 828 mt and climbed 19% in value to $5.4 million.

Complete January-April export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics Web page.

Monthly charts for U.S. pork and beef exports are also available online.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) members gathered in Kansas City Wednesday for Day 1 of the USMEF Spring Conference and Board of Directors Meeting, with recent trade developments lending an optimistic tone to the event. In his address to the USMEF membership, President and CEO Dan Halstrom reported on Mexico’s removal of retaliatory duties on U.S. pork, Canada’s elimination of a 10% duty on prepared beef products and Japan’s lifting of longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports.

“When I was preparing my comments a week ago there were a lot of negative things to talk about, like the 20% duty on pork going into Mexico,” Halstrom explained. “But we received some great news with the U.S., Mexico and Canada reaching a resolution on steel and aluminum tariffs and removal of the retaliatory duties on U.S. products. So on Monday morning, the first loads of pork in nearly a year crossed the border into Mexico at zero duty.”

Halstrom said he is also encouraged by the recent launch of U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, noting that Japan’s new trade agreements with the European Union and countries participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have put U.S. pork and beef at a significant disadvantage in the leading value market for both products. He added that gaining access to Japan for U.S. beef from cattle of all ages, which was announced last week and took effect May 20, will provide immediate, added momentum for U.S. beef exports.

“Now that the 30-month cattle age limit has been lifted, we estimate that this will provide a $150 to $200 million per year incremental boost for beef exports to Japan,” Halstrom said. “This opens up new product lines such as mountain chain tripe and tongues on the variety meat side, and for primal cuts we’ll see demand for middle meats and chuck rolls. It’s very exciting news and I want to extend a great big thank you to USDA and USTR for their work on this issue.”

USMEF Chair Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, Iowa, said resiliency and industry unity are key factors in gaining broader market access for U.S. agricultural exports.

“Obviously we are in a period of uncertainty and volatility, and that can sometimes lead to increased tension and division in U.S. agriculture,” Nelson explained. “That’s something we absolutely cannot afford, especially in these difficult times. So I’m excited to see such a high level of cooperation among all industry sectors.”

Wednesday’s keynote speaker was Peter Zeihan, a global trade expert and best-selling author who offered his perspective on how the current trade environment impacts U.S. agriculture and the red meat industry specifically. He noted that despite facing many challenges, the United States is remarkably well-positioned to have continued success as an agricultural exporter.

“Geographically, the U.S. has it made,” Zeihan explained. “The Greater Midwest is the single largest chunk of arable land in a temperate zone in the world, and it out-produces the next two largest agricultural zones put together. The Greater Mississippi, by itself, has more miles of naturally navigable waterway than the combined internal systems of the rest of the world. This chunk of North America is both the richest territory on the planet and the most securable. Decades of bipartisan effort have yet to screw this up, and this will not be the administration that cracks the code.”

When asked about the United States’ trade deficit, Zeihan acknowledged that the deficit has expanded under the Trump administration and that the administration’s approach to trade has been hard on U.S. agriculture. However, Zeihan feels strongly the U.S. has the upper hand in trade relations, especially with China.

“The United States holds all the cards here, and if the U.S. is willing to walk away from the game board and kick it over, it won’t be the one feeling the pain,” he said. “What you’re seeing right now with the trade deficit is a transitional period. In this moment, it looks like the United States doesn’t have as much leverage as it actually does. You feel that more than any other sector, because agriculture is the only thing that foreign governments can target. But this moment of transition isn’t going to last long. The title of my presentation was ‘At the Edge of Disorder,’ and we’re at the edge.”

The USMEF Spring Conference continues Thursday with an address (via teleconference) from Ted McKinney, USDA under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and meetings of USMEF’s standing committees. The conference will conclude Friday with a panel discussion on the trade implications of African swine fever.

South Korea continues to be the growth leader for U.S. beef exports, with first quarter volume climbing 8% year-over-year to 56,173 mt, while value ($414.2 million) was 13% above last year’s record-shattering pace. U.S. beef has achieved remarkable success in Korea’s traditional retail and restaurant sectors but is also rapidly gaining popularity in outlets such as convenience stores and e-commerce platforms. Recent export growth is not only in the ever-popular short rib category, but also in short plate, briskets, clods and rounds, as end-users recognize the versatility and affordability of high-quality U.S. beef.

Beef exports to Japan were moderately lower than a year ago in March, but still finished the first quarter 2% above last year’s pace in volume (74,147 mt) and 5% higher in value ($480.4 million). This was fueled by growth in variety meat exports, with the U.S. shipping more tongues and skirt meat to Japan. U.S. beef faces a widening tariff disadvantage in Japan compared to imports from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, and the latest tariff reduction for these countries didn’t take effect until April 1.

“U.S. beef cuts are still subject to a 38.5% tariff in Japan while our competitors’ rate is nearly one-third lower at 26.6%,” explained Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “This really underscores the urgency of the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, which must progress quickly if we are going to continue to have success in the leading value market for U.S. beef and pork.”

Japan’s tariffs on beef variety meat are lower, but U.S. shipments are subject to a duty of 12.8% while competitors pay less than half that rate.

Other first quarter highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • Beef muscle cut exports to Mexico continued to shine, with first quarter volume up 14% from a year ago to 35,481 mt and value climbing 16% to $220.7 million. While variety meat exports trended lower year-over-year, combined beef/beef variety volume still increased 1% to 57,591 mt while value jumped 12% to $280.2 million.
  • Exports to Taiwan were 3% above last year’s record pace at 13,487 mt, though value slipped 7% to $117.8 million. U.S. beef dominates Taiwan’s chilled beef market with nearly 75% market share – the highest of any Asian destination.
  • CAFTA-DR markets continue to be an excellent source of growth for U.S. beef exports, with first quarter volume to Central America up 15% from a year ago to 3,628 mt and value up 19% to $21.2 million. Exports to the Dominican Republic soared 71% to 2,345 mt valued at $18.9 million (up 65%).
  • Lower exports to Hong Kong and Canada offset some of the first quarter growth in other markets. Exports to Hong Kong trailed last year’s pace by 36% in volume (21,304 mt) and 30% in value ($177.1 million). Exports to Canada were down 14% in both volume (23,199 mt) and value ($143.8 million).
  • U.S. exports to China were up 4% from a year ago to 1,723 mt, but this came at lower prices as export value fell 17% to $13.2 million. There is tremendous potential in the Chinese market for U.S. beef, but due to China’s restrictive import requirements and retaliatory duties pushing the tariff rate to 37%, U.S. prices are significantly higher than the competition. By comparison, most beef suppliers are subject to a 12% tariff in China while beef from New Zealand is duty-free and Australian beef pays only a 6% rate. Australia’s grain-fed beef exports to China in the first quarter totaled 14,347 mt, up 77% year-over-year.

For the first quarter of 2019, U.S. beef exports were slightly below last year’s record pace while pork exports continued to be slowed by trade barriers, according to March data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). U.S. lamb exports were a first quarter bright spot, trending significantly higher than a year ago.

March beef exports totaled 107,655 metric tons (mt), down 4% year-over-year, while value fell 2% to $678 million. For the first quarter, exports were down 3% at 307,306 mt valued at $1.9 billion (down 0.8%).

March beef exports were very strong on a per-head basis, with export value per head of fed slaughter averaging $335.81 – up 1% from a year ago and the highest since December. The first quarter average was $309.32/head, down 2% from a year ago. March exports accounted for 13.6% of total U.S. beef production and 11% for muscle cuts only, which was fairly steady with last March. For the first quarter these ratios were 12.9% and 10.2%, down from 13.2% and 10.7%, respectively, a year ago.

Pork exports totaled 211,688 mt in March, down 7% from a year ago, valued at $520.7 million (down 15%). First quarter exports were 6% below last year’s pace in volume (600,268 mt) and down 14% in value ($1.47 billion).

Pork export value averaged $48.55 per head slaughtered in March, down 15% from a year ago. For January through March, export value averaged $46.15 per head, down 16% from the first quarter of 2018. March exports accounted for 25.6% of total U.S. pork production and 22.7% for muscle cuts only – down from 27.5% and 23.5%, respectively in March 2018. First quarter exports accounted for 24.4% of total pork production (down from 26.6%) and 21.3% for muscle cuts (down from 23%).