Strong March results capped an excellent first quarter for U.S. red meat exports, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF, as beef exports set a new monthly value record in March and pork export value reached the second-highest level on record.
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The United States is exporting a strong share of its beef and pork production at higher prices — a clear sign of solid international demand.
March beef export value was $693.1 million, up 18 percent year-over-year and topping the previous high set in October 2014.
Export volume was 111,994 metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from a year ago.
For the first quarter of 2018, exports were 9 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (318,073 mt) and jumped 19 percent in value ($1.92 billion).
Exports accounted for 13.6 percent of total beef production in March, up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago.
For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.1 percent – up from 9.9 percent last year.
For January through March, exports accounted for 13.2 percent of total production and 10.7 percent for muscle cuts, up from 12.4 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.
Beef export value averaged $332.89 per head of fed slaughter in March, up 23 percent from a year ago. For the first quarter, per-head value averaged $315.67, up 18 percent.
On the pork side, March export volume was steady with last year at 227,363 mt, while value increased 4 percent to $610.4 million – trailing only the November 2017 record of $615.8 million.
For the January-March quarter, volume increased 1 percent year-over-year to 636,297 mt, while value was up 8 percent to $1.7 billion.
Exports accounted for 27.5 percent of total pork production in March, down from 28 percent a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased slightly to 23.5 percent.
First-quarter exports followed a similar pattern, accounting for 26.6 percent of total production (down from 27 percent a year ago) and 23 percent for muscle cuts only (up from 22.6 percent).
March pork export value averaged $56.91 per head slaughtered, up 4 percent from a year ago, while the January-March average increased 5 percent to $54.81. ■