US beef exports in June were the highest since 2011.
DENVER – “A very strong first half of the year,” is how the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) referred to the record-high levels of US exports of pork and beef through June.  At more than 109,500 metric tons (mt), beef exports in June reached the highest point of 2017 and the largest June since 2011. June exports of beef were valued at more than $602.5 million, a 10 percent increase, according to USMEF data collected from the US Dept. of Agriculture.

Through June, beef exports jumped 12 percent in volume at more than 606,800 metric tons while values topped $3.35 billion year to date, a 15 percent increase.

Pork exports also represented the largest volume for the month of June on record at 200,229 mt, up 6 percent over last year at a value of $527.1 million (a 4 percent uptick). For the first half of 2017, pork export volumes reached 1.25 million mt valued at $3.21 billion, increases of 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Japan continued gaining momentum in the month as that country continues to be the leading export market for US beef with 27,521 mt (up 7 percent) and value of $174.4 million (up 13 percent). Exports topped last year’s volume by 23 percent at 150,812 mt with a value of $905.8 million, up 28 percent for the year.

“In this time of large red meat production, the upward trend in per-head export value and in the percentage of production exported is especially critical to the industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “These metrics confirm that we’re not simply exporting more red meat because more is available – those exports are also generating excellent returns. It was also gratifying to see that the US trade deficit narrowed in June due to an expansion of exports, knowing that the red meat industry made another solid contribution toward that effort.”

Chilled beef to Asia drives first-half growth, but exports increased to most destinations.

“While demand for US beef is very strong in Japan’s retail and foodservice sectors, frozen exports to Japan face a higher tariff rate through March 2018,” according to the USMEF.

Contributing to the largest volume of beef exported to South Korea for the year, June exports to South Korea were the largest since January (14,701 mt, up 14 percent from a year ago) at a value of $92.4 million. The US claimed more than 50 percent of Korea’s chilled beef market as chilled exports totaled 18,816 mt, valued at $166 million (up 86 percent).

Mexico, Korea and South America led first-half export growth of US pork.

Mexico’s imports of US pork continued on a record pace in June, increasing 19 percent over last year in both volume (64,712 mt) and value ($124.9 million), as consumers there continue eating more pork in general, both imported and domestically. As pork consumption has increased by about 33 percent per-capita in the past decade, the country’s production of pork has grown by 30 percent, USMEF reports.

Other first-half highlights for US pork exports included:

  • Pork exports to South Korea climbed 31 percent from a year ago to 94,545 mt, valued at $258.5 million (up 38 percent).
  • Exports to China/Hong Kong fell below last year’s pace in volume (271,297 mt), value increased 3 percent ($558.4 million). First-half variety meat exports to the region climbed 19 percent in volume (172,269 mt) and 28 percent in value ($367.2 million).
  • Pork exports to Central and South America were up 51 percent in volume (81,930 mt) and 56 percent in value ($200.3 million). Exports doubled to Peru.
  • Pork exports to the Caribbean went up 36 percent in volume (26,984 mt) and 35 percent in value ($63.7 million).
  • Larger shipments to the Philippines and Singapore helped drive exports to the ASEAN region up 20 percent in volume (23,207 mt) and 28 percent in value ($59 million).
  • Led by the above-mentioned success in China/Hong Kong, pork variety meat exports achieved exceptional growth in the first half, increasing 19 percent year-over-year in volume (286,787 mt) and 32 percent in value ($580.3 million). Additional markets contributing to this growth included Mexico, Canada, Chile, Colombia and the Philippines. Variety meat export value averaged $9.78 per head slaughtered in the first half, up $2.10 from a year ago.

Meanwhile, US lamb exports exceeded last year’s for the second straight month in June, reaching 642 mt (up 40 percent) valued at $1.75 million (up 58 percent). First-half lamb exports were down 13 percent from a year ago in volume (3,755 mt) while increasing 10 percent in value ($9.6 million).