US beef exports soar as tariffs challenge pork market

By Ashley Williams contact

- Last updated on GMT

US beef demand remains high but tariffs impact pork market
US beef demand remains high but tariffs impact pork market
The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has revealed strong demand for beef exports from the international market during June, while pork exports fell for a consecutive month.

Beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in June of 90,745 metric tonnes (mt), up 15% from a year ago, while exports accounted for 13.4% of total beef production, up from 12.8% a year ago.

First half-year results for volume and value also exceeded expectations, due to international customers purchasing a larger share of US beef production at higher prices. Export volume was up 9% from a year ago to 662,875 mt while export value was just over US$4 billion, up 21%. In previous years, export value has never topped the $4bn mark before August.

It’s remarkable to think that, as recently as 2010, beef exports for the entire year totalled $4bn, and now that milestone has been reached in just six months​,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president. “This should be a source of great pride for the beef industry, which has remained committed to expanding exports even when facing numerous obstacles. And with global demand hitting on all cylinders, there is plenty of room for further growth​.”

Despite the US beef industry breaking export records, the pork industry is feeling the effects from retaliatory tariffs, particularly from Mexico and China.

June exports totalled 191,303 mt, down 4.5% from a year ago, despite a slight increase in muscle cut exports to 153,083 mt. June export value was $510.4m, down 3%.

For the first half of 2018, pork export volume was still 2% ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.27 million mt, while value increased 5% to $3.36bn. For pork muscle cuts, first-half exports were up 6% year-on-year in both volume at 1.02 million mt and value at $2.78m.

The results were hit by the increase in import duties on US pork and pork variety meats entering China, which rose from 12% to 37% in April, while in July, the rate increased to 62%​.

Mexico imposed a 10% retaliatory duty on US pork muscle cuts​ in June and increased the rate to 20% just two weeks later. Pork sausages and prepared hams entering Mexico are now subject to duties of 15% and 20%, respectively, which also took effect in June.

Pork exports – and especially variety meats – face a very challenging environment in China/Hong Kong due not only to retaliatory duties but also because of increasing domestic production in China​,” Halstrom added.

USMEF is working closely with Mexico’s major processors and other key customers to re-emphasise the advantages of fresh US pork, as we work to assist US suppliers in solidifying as much business as possible in this critical market​.”

US beef
US pork

Credit: USMEF

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