Beef posts one of the highest monthly export values on record.
DENVER- Exports numbers for US beef continue to be strong according to statistics released by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). However, pork exports were down slightly year-over-year despite an increase from the previous month.

Beef exports totaled 112,069 metric tons (mt) in August, up 5 percent over last year and the largest of 2017. Export value was the second highest on record at $679.1 million– up 20 percent from a year ago. Through August, beef exports jumped 10 percent in volume at more than 823,433 metric tons while values topped $3.65 billion year to date, a 15 percent increase.

Exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total US beef production in August 2017 and 10.4 percent for muscle cut only. From January to August saw beef exports accounting for 12. 8 percent of total production which is down from 13.2 percent in 2016. Fed slaughter averages per head on exports were valued at $290.05 in August, up 13 percent from a year ago. Through August, per-head export value was $275.81 up 9 percent.

Pork exports declined 2 percent year-over-year in September to 183,658 metric tons down 0.3 percent over last year at a value of $511.4 million. For January through August, volume remained 9 percent above last year’s record pace at 1.61 million metric tons while export value increased 11 percent to $4.21 billion.

Exports accounted for 23.1 percent of total pork production in August down from 24.1 percent in 2016 and 19.2 percent for muscle cuts only, down from 20 percent. Export value per head slaughtered trended lower in August at $47.98, down 3 percent from a year ago, but the January through August average was still up 8 percent to $53.28.

“As we head into the final quarter, 2017 is shaping up as a very solid year for red meat exports but one in which the U.S. industry still faces significant challenges,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “We have new pork plants coming on line and strong cattle-on-feed numbers, which sends a positive signal to our international customers about product availability. But the international markets are increasingly competitive, so we must continue to aggressively pursue new opportunities for US red meat products in both our traditional mainstay destinations and in emerging markets.”

The volume of beef exports to Japan was the highest since the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) discovery in the US in 2003. Exports to Japan totaled 31,001 metric tons in August, up 22 percent from a year ago, and the largest since July 2013 – shortly after Japan increased the eligible US cattle age to 30 months.

August export value to Japan increased 35 percent to $200.05 million, the highest monthly total since 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 23 percent in volume (209,502 tons) and 30 percent in value ($1.28 billion).

Just like July, beef exports were down 2 percent in August at 16,188 tons, but it was still the highest month of the year. Export value to South Korea increased 19 percent in August from a year ago to $116.9 million. From January to August of 2017, Korean exports rose 8 percent in volume to 116,132 tons and 19 percent in value ($746.3 million), including 88 percent increase in chilled beef exports (27,378 tons) valued at $243.8 million (88 percent).

Despite difficult pork numbers overall, the exports to Mexico, Japan and South America remained strong. In August, volume to Mexico rose 18 percent from last year to 65,037 tons and saw value increase to $129.6 million. Pork exports to Japan fell 9 percent in both volume (31,863 tons) and value ($140.5 million) for August 2017.