Beef posts one of the highest monthly export values on record with pork value down slightly.

DENVER – Statistics released by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) show US beef exports stayed above last year’s pace in July while posting one of the highest monthly export value totals on record. Export value for pork dipped below its year-ago level for July for the first time in 15 months with export value down slightly as well.

July beef exports were up 5 percent year-over-year and totaled 115,178 tons with export value up 18 percent from a year ago reaching $623.7 million, the highest since Dec. 14, 2016. For January through July, exports increased 11 percent in volume (784,145 tons) and 15 percent in value ($3.97 billion) compared to the first seven months of last year.

Exports accounted for 13.2 percent of total US beef production in July 2017 and 10.7 percent for muscle cuts only representing the highest ratios of the year, but down 14.2 percent and 11 percent, respectively, last July. January through July saw beef exports accounting for 12.8 percent of total production with 10 percent for muscle cuts and staying steady with numbers from the same period last year. Fed slaughter averages per head had an export value of $299.21 in July, up more than $35 (or 13 percent) from a year ago while July per head export value was $273.52, up 9 percent.

Pork exports were down 4 percent year-over-year in July totaling 191,444 tons and valued at $488.9 million. January through July volume was still up 11 percent from a year ago to 1.58 million tons, while export value was up 13 percent to $3.7 billion.

Pork exports accounted for 26 percent of total production in July and 21 percent for muscle cuts, down from 27.5 percent and 23 percent respectively. The percentage of total production set a record pace for January through July 2017 and total production exported increased from 25.6 percent to 27.5 percent. For muscle cuts only, the increase was from 21.6 percent to 23 percent. Export value per head slaughtered in July was $54.22 – up slightly from June but 3 percent below last July. The January-July per-head average increased 10 percent from a year ago to $54.11.

“July was certainly a solid month, especially for beef exports, but these results remind us that the US red meat industry operates in an intensely competitive global environment,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “At a time when some of our most essential trade agreements are under review, we must be mindful of how these agreements have helped make US beef, pork and lamb more readily available and more affordable for millions of global customers, to the benefit of US producers and everyone in the US supply chain.”

The volume of beef exports to Japan was the largest in four years and the highest since the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) era. Exports to Japan totaled 30,522 tons in July, up 20 percent from a year ago and the largest since July 2013 – shortly after Japan increased the eligible US cattle age to 30 months. July export value to Japan increased 36 percent to $175.7 million, the highest monthly total since 1996. For January through July, exports to Japan were up 23 percent in volume (196,764 tons) and 29 percent in value ($1.08 billion).

Beef exports to South Korea were down 5 percent in July at 17,182 tons, but still the highest month of this year. export value to Korea increased 8 percent in July from a year ago to $101.7 million. For the first seven months of 2017 Korean exports increase 9 percent in volume to 109,067 tons and 19 percent in value ($629.4 million), including an impressive 83 percent increase in chilled beef exports (24,727 tons) valued at $199 million (up 88 percent).

While pork exports did decrease overall, they did show good growth in Mexico, Korea and South America. In July, volume to Mexico rose 7 percent from last year to 64,623 tons and saw value increase 9 percent to $122.9 million. US and domestic pork industries continue to take advantage of Mexico’s rapidly growing per capita pork consumption, which has increased by about one-third over the past 10 years to 18 kilograms annually (based on USDA estimates).

Pork exports to Japan fell 7 percent in both volume (31,210 tons) and value ($120.5 million) for July 2017. Through July 2017, they were modestly higher year-over-year in both volume (251,866 tons, up 2 percent) and value ($931.1 million, up 6 percent).