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Slow red meat exports in May in U.S.

Christian Fernsby |
U.S. beef and pork exports trended lower in May, due in part to interruptions in slaughter and processing, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

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Topics: MEAT    U.S.   

Beef exports dropped well below year-ago levels and recorded the lowest monthly volume in 10 years.

Pork exports remained higher than a year ago but were the lowest since October 2019.

May beef exports were down 33% from a year ago to 79,280 metric tons (mt), with value falling 34% to $480.1 million, as shipments were higher than a year ago to Hong Kong and China but trended lower to most other markets.

For January through May, beef exports fell 3% below last year’s pace in volume (512,596 mt) and 5% lower in value ($3.14 billion).

Exports accounted for 12.5% of total beef production in May and 10.5% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.6% and 12.0%, respectively, in May 2019.

For January through May, exports still accounted for slightly higher percentage of both total beef production (14.1%, up from 14%) and muscle cut production (11.6%, up from 11.3%) compared to last year.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $282.48 in May, down 10% from a year ago.

The January-May average was $318.87 per head, up 3%.

May pork exports totaled 243,823 mt, 12% above a year ago but down 13% from the monthly average for the first quarter of 2020.

Export value was $620.9 million, up 9% year-over-year but 16% below the first quarter monthly average.

May exports increased year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam, but trended lower to Mexico, Japan, Canada and South Korea.

For January through May, exports were 30% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (1.35 million mt) and 37% higher in value ($3.53 billion).

Exports accounted for 36.2% of total pork production in May and one-third of muscle cut production, up substantially from last May’s ratios (27.3% and 23.3%, respectively).

For January through May, exports accounted for 33% of total pork production and 30% for muscle cuts, also up significantly from last year (25.4% and 22.1%, respectively).

Export value per head slaughtered averaged $72.30 in May, down only slightly from the April record and 32% higher than a year ago.

The January-May average was $67.33 per head, up 38% year-over-year.

The U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement has provided much-needed momentum for U.S.

beef exports to China, which totaled 1,671 mt in May (up 205% from a year ago), valued at $13.2 million (up 187%).

The agreement’s red meat trade provisions took effect in late March, and in just a short time helped January-May exports to China reach 4,926 mt (up 66% from a year ago) valued at $38.9 million (up 71%).

The U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement has provided much-needed momentum for U.S. beef exports to China, which totaled 1,671 mt in May (up 205% from a year ago), valued at $13.2 million (up 187%).

The agreement’s red meat trade provisions took effect in late March, and in just a short time helped January-May exports to China reach 4,926 mt (up 66% from a year ago) valued at $38.9 million (up 71%).

Led by growth in South Africa, Gabon, Angola and Cote d’Ivoire, Africa continues to emerge as a key destination for beef variety meat in 2020.

May variety meat exports nearly doubled in both volume (2,692 mt, up 99%) and value ($2 million, up 94%) from a year ago and for January through May, exports totaled 12,783 mt (up 123%) valued at $9.6 million (up 115%).

China/Hong Kong continued to drive pork export growth in May, though January-May exports also remained higher year-over-year to several other key markets.

May exports to China/Hong Kong pulled back from recent record highs but still reached 112,820 mt, up 148% from a year ago, valued at $259 million (up 188%).

Through May, exports to China/Hong Kong tripled last year’s pace at 526,273 mt (up 203%), valued at $1.25 billion (up $284%).

Pork exports to Japan trended lower in May but January-May shipments remained 7% ahead of last year’s pace at 169,912 mt, valued at $704 million (up 10%).

Chilled pork accounts for more than half of U.S. exports to Japan, much of which is high-value product destined for retail.

Japan’s import data (also through May) showed a 4% increase in U.S. chilled pork at 88,217 mt.

Japan’s imports of U.S. ground seasoned pork increased 43% to nearly 50,000 mt, while value soared 69% to $150 million.

U.S. share of Japan’s ground seasoned pork imports climbed to 79%, up from 57% last year.

May exports of U.S. lamb totaled 1,127 mt, down 14% from a year ago, while value fell 46% to $2.33 million.

For January through May, exports were down 19% in volume (5,463 mt) and 28% in value ($8.21 million).

Lamb muscle cut exports have trended higher in 2020, increasing 120% through May to 2,288 mt, but value trended lower at $5.33 million (down 20%).

Muscle cut export growth has been driven primarily by Mexico (1,835 mt, up 448%, valued at $2.23 million, up 51%), though May data also showed a large increase to Hong Kong.


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