April proved to be solid month for U.S. beef and pork exports
Topics: U.S. BEEF
Beef exports were below last April’s large totals but still topped $600 million in value.
Pork exports remained well above year-ago levels but slowed from the record pace established in the first quarter.
April beef exports were down 6% from a year ago to 98,613 metric tons (mt), with value falling 11% to $600.9 million.
But exports achieved outstanding growth in Japan, where U.S.
beef is benefiting from reduced tariffs under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, and trended higher to China following late-March implementation of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.
For January through April, beef exports totaled 433,316 mt, up 5% from a year ago, valued at $2.66 billion (up 3%).
With lower April slaughter numbers, beef export value per head of fed slaughter climbed to a record $363.35, up 19% from April 2019.
For the first four months of the year, per-head export value increased 5% to $326.47.
April beef exports accounted for 15.9% of total production and 13.5% for beef muscle cuts, up from 13.5% and 11.1%, respectively, a year ago.
Through April, exports accounted for 14.4% of total beef production and 11.9% for muscle cuts, up from 13.8% and 11.2%, respectively, last year.
While China/Hong Kong continued to be the pacesetter for U.S.
pork export growth, April exports also increased significantly to Japan, Vietnam and Chile.
April volume reached 264,048 mt, up 22% from a year ago but the lowest since November 2019.
Export value was $682.8 million, up 28% year-over-year but the lowest since October 2019.
Through the first four months of 2020, pork exports remain on a record pace at 1.1 million mt, up 35% from a year ago, with value up 45% to $2.91 billion.
With production down significantly from the record levels achieved in March, pork export value per head slaughtered jumped to a record $72.55 in April, up 43% from a year ago.
The January-April per-head average was $66.36, up 40%.
April exports accounted for 36.2% of total pork production and 32.2% for pork muscle cuts, each up nearly 10 percentage points from a year ago.
Through April, exports accounted for 32.4% of total pork production and 29.3% for muscle cuts, up from 24.9% and 21.8%, respectively, in the first four months of 2019.
April beef exports to leading market Japan totaled 31,280 mt, up 30% from a year ago, while value was the highest since August 2018 at $196.4 million (up 25%).
Through April, exports to Japan established a record pace at 114,152 mt (up 16%
rom a year ago) valued at $719.8 million (up 13%). Although beef exports to South Korea cooled in April, 2020 shipments remained ahead of last year’s record pace.
April exports totaled 19,411 mt, down 14% from a year ago, valued at $133.9 million (down 19%).
But through April, exports to Korea were still up 6% from a year ago at 83,345 mt, valued at $598.7 million (up 4%).
Korea eased social distancing and stay-at-home requirements in May, leading to a significant increase in domestic travel and foodservice demand through its early May holidays.
After a down year in 2019, demand for U.S. beef has rebounded in Canada.
April exports were up 38% from a year ago at 10,850 mt, with value up 35% to $74.7 million.
Through April, exports to Canada increased 25% in volume (35,399 mt) and 24% in value ($241.1 million).
Canada faced production challenges similar to the U.S., with sharply reduced slaughter volumes in April and May. ■