It reported that beef exports totalled 105,241 metric tons (mt) in April, down 5% year-on-year, with export values down slightly at US$674.2m. For January through April, exports were 4% below last year’s record pace in volume (412,547 mt) and 1% lower in value (US$2.58bn).
South Korea remains the fastest-growing market for US beef, with April volumes up 18% to 22,584 mt, while value rose 22% to US$164.3m, surpassing Japan as the month’s leading value market.
Taiwan has also been experiencing a record year for US beef exports and posted a strong April at 5,118 mt, a 15% year-on-year rise, valued at US$47.9m, up 14%.
In Japan, where all of US beef’s major competitors have gained tariff relief in 2019, April exports were down 6% from a year ago in both volume (24,149 mt) and value (US$156.8m).
“US beef is holding its own in Japan, but the April numbers are telling,” said USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom. “With the April 1 rate cut, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Mexican beef are now subject to a 26.6% duty, while the rate for US beef remains at 38.5%. It is absolutely essential that the US secures an agreement that will level this playing field. US beef’s exceptional growth in Korea is a great example of what’s possible when tariffs are less of an obstacle.”
On the pork side, exports totalled 216,757 mt in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at US$535.2m (down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year’s pace in volume (817,025 mt) and were down 12% in value to just over US$2bn.
Most of the news in the pork market happened in May, with the lifting of retaliatory duties between the US and Mexico. However, President Trump had used tariffs as a bargaining chip in talks over immigration with Mexico. USMEF’s Halstrom described the lifting of the duties to be “the most welcome news the US pork industry has received in a long time”, so expect May and June figures to tell a different story.
Lamb on the rise
Meanwhile, demand from Mexico, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Panama has led to a rise in US lamb exports in April. During the month, exports totalled 1,227 mt, up 26% from a year ago, while value was up 15% to US$2.2m.