Strong June results capped a huge first half of 2018 for U.S. beef exports, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
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June pork exports were lower than a year ago for the second consecutive month, but first-half volume and value remained ahead of last year’s pace.
Beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in June of 90,745 metric tons (mt), up 15 percent from a year ago.
When adding variety meat, total beef export volume was 115,718 mt, up 6 percent, valued at $718.4 million – up 19 percent year-over-year and only slightly below the record total ($722.1 million) reached in May.
First-half exports set a record pace in both volume and value as international customers bought a larger share of U.S. beef production at higher prices, indicating strong demand.
Export volume was up 9 percent from a year ago to 662,875 mt while export value was just over $4 billion, up 21 percent. In previous years, export value never topped the $4 billion mark before August.
June exports accounted for 13.4 percent of total beef production, up from 12.8 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.3 percent, up from just under 10 percent last year.
First-half exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total beef production and 11 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10 percent, respectively, last year.
Beef export value averaged $313.56 per head of fed slaughter in June, up 19 percent from a year ago. The first-half average was $316.94 per head, up 18 percent.
After setting a new record in April, pork export volume has trended lower the past two months, mainly due to lower exports to the China/Hong Kong region.
June exports totaled 191,303 mt, down 4.5 percent from a year ago, despite a slight increase in muscle cut exports (to 153,083 mt). June export value was $510.4 million, down 3 percent.
For the first half of 2018, pork export volume was still 2 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.27 million mt, while value increased 5 percent to $3.36 billion.
For pork muscle cuts only, first-half exports were up 6 percent year-over-year in both volume (1.02 million mt) and value ($2.78 million).
On April 2, the import duty on U.S. pork and pork variety meats entering China increased from 12 percent to 37 percent. On July 6, the rate increased to 62 percent.
Mexico imposed a 10 percent retaliatory duty on U.S. pork muscle cuts (variety meats are excluded) on June 5 and increased the rate to 20 percent on July 5.
Pork sausages and prepared hams entering Mexico are subject to duties of 15 percent and 20 percent, respectively, which took effect June 5. First-half export results reflect the first round of duties imposed by China and Mexico, but not the higher rates that took effect in July.
June pork exports accounted for 26.4 percent of total production, down from 27.1 percent a year ago, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22.2 percent to 22.8 percent.
First-half exports equaled 27.3 percent of total pork production (down from 27.8 percent a year ago) and 23.6 percent for muscle cuts (up from 23.1 percent).
Pork export value averaged $53.13 per head slaughtered in June, down slightly from a year ago, while the first-half per-head average increased 2 percent to $55.18.
Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to climb in June, totaling 31,147 mt (up 13 percent from a year ago) valued at $193.1 million (up 11 percent).
First-half exports to Japan were up 6 percent from a year ago in volume at 159,354 mt while value increased 12 percent to $1.02 billion. This included a 4 percent increase in chilled beef to 73,968 mt, valued at $590.1 million (up 15 percent).
June exports to South Korea were up 46 percent from a year ago in volume (21,408 mt) and set another new value record at $154.8 million (up 68 percent).
First-half exports to Korea climbed 36 percent to 113,283 mt, valued at $802.1 million – up 52 percent from last year’s record pace. Chilled beef exports to Korea totaled 25,400 mt (up 35 percent) valued at $244.8 million (up 47 percent).
June exports of U.S. lamb were the largest of 2018 in both volume (1,016 mt, up 58 percent from a year ago) and value ($2.2 million, up 26 percent), pushing first-half exports 46 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (5,471 mt) and 17 percent higher in value ($11.3 million).
Stronger variety meat demand in Mexico accounted for much of this growth, but muscle cut exports trended higher to the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Exports should receive an additional boost in the second half of the year from Japan, which reopened to U.S. lamb on July 11. ■