WASHINGTON – US beef exports were higher in January 2018 than a year ago, while pork exports were steady in volume as value increased, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported. 

Pork exports climbed 7 percent year-over-year in January to 203,488 metric tons (mt). USMEF said the increase represented the fourth-largest monthly volume on record. Pork export went up 7 percent to $545.6 million. Pork exports accounted for 24.7 percent of total pork production, down from 26.2 percent a year ago. Pork export volume increased 5 percent to 164,189 mt, while value climbed 9 percent to $454.2 million. 

Meanwhile, exports of US beef advanced 9 percent to 105,486 mt compared with a year ago, USMEF reported. For the month, beef exports surged to 21 percent in value to $624.4 million. Additionally, beef exports accounted for 12.4 percent of total beef production in January up slightly from a year ago. 

For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported increased from 9.5 percent to 10.1 percent. Beef export value averaged $293.06 per head of fed slaughter, up 14 percent year-over-year. Also in muscle cuts, beef exports reached 80,495 mt (up 15 percent) valued at $555.7 million (up 23 percent). 

Variety meats had a tough time in January with pork variety meat exports dropping 16 percent in volume (39,299 mt). However, pork still managed a 2 percent increase in value to $91.5 million. Beef variety meat volume fell 5 percent to just under 25,000 mt, but value increased 7 percent to $68.8 million. 

“January export results were solid overall and were especially strong for muscle cuts,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Despite the decline in variety meat volume, export value continued to increase. This underscores the important contribution variety meats deliver for producers and for everyone in the US supply chain.” 

Beef exports to Japan totaled 23,968 mt in January, up 7 percent from a year ago. It was also a 19 percent increase in value to $148.6 million. This included a 30 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 12,411 mt, valued at $92.4 million (up 38 percent). Frozen exports declined 13 percent in volume (8,141 mt) but increased slightly in value ($33.1 million). Frozen US beef entering Japan is subject to a 50 percent safeguard tariff, which is scheduled to revert back to 38.5 percent on April 1, the beginning of the new Japanese fiscal year. 

Benefiting from a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, frozen beef from Australia is subject to a duty of 27.2 percent. This rate will decline to 26.9 percent on April 1. Exports to South Korea, which reached a record $1.2 billion in 2017, increased 13 percent from a year ago to 17,133 mt, while export value soared 34 percent to $122.3 million. This included a 54 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 3,954 mt, valued at $36.9 million, up 63 percent. Through the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the duty on US beef was reduced to 21.3 percent on Jan. 1, about 5 percentage points lower than Australia’s rate for this year and down significantly from the pre-KORUS rate of 40 percent. 

January pork exports to Mexico increased 1 percent from a year ago in volume (72,997 mt) and 4 percent in value ($133.5 million). Mexico continues to be a mainstay market for US hams and is the second-largest destination, behind China/Hong Kong, for pork variety meat.