WASHINGTON – US beef exports set a new value record in May while increasing year-over-year volume, significantly, according to the US Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) latest report.

The beef export value was up 4 percent to $722.1 million and up 24 percent from a year ago. For January through May, exports increased 10 percent (547,157 metric tons (mt)) and 21 percent in value ($3.32 billion).

Beef exports accounted for 13.6 percent of total production (up from 13 percent) and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts (up from 10 percent). May beef export value averaged $313.39 per head of fed slaughter, up 18 percent from a year ago.

Pork exports were down 2 percent from the previous year at 217, 209 metric tons. Pork export volume was down 3.5 percent to $562.5 million. For January through May, exports increased 3 percent compared with a year ago in volume (1.08 million mt, a record pace) and 6 percent in value ($2.85 billion).

Pork exports accounted for 27.8 percent of total production (down from 29.5 percent) and 24 percent for muscle cuts (down from 1 percent). May beef export value averaged $55.05 per head slaughtered, up 2 percent from 2017.

Lamb exports were up 57 percent from a year ago with 998 metric tons making it the largest volume increase since December 2015. Exports through May were increased 43 percent in volume (4,455 metric tons) and rose 15 percent in value to $9.1 million. 

Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on US pork went into effect in June, meaning January-May results were not impacted directly. On June 5, Mexico imposed a 10 percent duty on fresh/frozen pork muscle cuts from the United States, and the rate increased to 20 percent on July 5. Also in June, Mexico imposed a 15 percent duty on US pork sausages and a 20 percent duty on some prepared hams (these rates did not increase July 5) and opened a duty-free quota aimed at attracting imports from non-U.S. suppliers.

May pork exports to Mexico increased 2 percent from 2017 in volume to 70,589 metric tons but dropped 11 percent in value to $115.6 million. For January through May, exports to Mexico were 6 percent above 2017 volume record volume pace at 353,364 metric tons. Value is also up 2 percent to $621 million. On the Mexican beef exports side, volume increased 4 percent with 98,900 mt and 13 percent higher in value at $427.9 million.

In China, May beef exports increased 20 percent in volume to 57,186 metric tons and 47 percent in value to $442 million. According to USMEF, China May exports were largest since the market opened in June 2017. For January through May, exports totaled 3,133 metric tons valued at $28.7 million. However, on July 6 China’s import rate on US beef increased from 12 percent to 37 percent.

China and Hong Kong pork exports increased fell below average due to the additional 25 percent tariff imposed by China on April 2. May exports to China and Hong Kong were down 31 percent from 2017 with 34,191 mt. Export value dropped 25 percent ($79.9 million) in the same category. For the first five months, exports to China were 18 percent lower than 2017’s pace in volume (187.439 mt) and down 6 percent in value to $436.4 million. On July 6, China also enacted another 25 percent tariff on pork as well. 

“It is unfortunate that US pork is caught in the crosshairs of a dispute that has nothing to do with pork trade,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF is focusing on the factors we can control by partnering with US packers and exporters to make every effort to defend our market share and protect our business in Mexico and China. USMEF also consistently stresses the importance of diversifying our export markets and expanding US pork’s footprint into emerging markets, and those efforts are more critical than ever.”