DENVER – US pork and beef both showed higher export volume totals in July than a year ago, according to the July US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) report. Beef export value remains strong, but pork export values declined due to tariffs placed on goods by the Trump Administration and retaliatory duties imposed by Mexico and China.

Pork export volume was up 1.5 percent year-over-year in July to 176, 413 metric tons (mt). Pork value, however, totaled $465.3 million for the month, down 5 percent from 2017. The USMEF said this was the lowest monthly value since Feb. 2016. For January through July, exports increased 2 percent ahead of last year’s record volume pace at 1.45 million. Value was up 3 percent in value ($3.83 billion). 

“It is encouraging to see pork export volume continue to grow, even in the face of considerable headwinds in some of our most critical markets,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “But as anticipated, the 20 percent duty in Mexico and 62 percent duty in China weigh heavily on the price these exports can command and on the returns generated for producers and for everyone in the US supply chain. Buyers outside of Mexico and China have stepped up to purchase our product, which is fantastic. But they are capitalizing on a buying opportunity made possible by the higher costs of doing business in Mexico and China.”

Pork exports accounted for 24.7 percent of total pork production and 21.7 percent for muscle cuts only. That is down from 25.9 percent and 21.3 percent for those categories in 2017.Through July, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year going from 27.5 to 27 percent, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported was a little higher from 22.9 percent to 23.3 percent. July export value averaged $48.49 per head slaughtered, down 11 percent from a year ago. However, per-head export value was up slightly to $54.27.

Meanwhile, the volume of beef exports in July increased 12 percent to 116,575 mt compared to the same period last year, USMEF reported. For the month, beef exports increased 16 percent in value to $722 million. Year to date beef export volume and value is on a record pace, gaining 10 percent (779,450 mt) and 20 percent in value ($4.76 billion) during the period from January to July.

Beef exports made up for 14 percent of the total beef production in July. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.8 percent. Both numbers are nearly a full percentage point form 2017.

For the first seven months of 2018, beef exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total production (up from 12.8 percent) and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts (up from 10.1 percent). July beef export value averaged $326.18 per head of fed slaughter, up 9 percent from a year ago.

For January through July, exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total beef production and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $326.18 per head of fed slaughter in July, up 9 percent from a year ago. Through July, per-head export value was up 16 percent to $318.31.

“The worldwide momentum for US beef has rarely been as strong as it is today,” Halstrom said. “To a large degree our mainstay Asian markets are driving this growth, but emerging markets in Asia and in the Western Hemisphere are also displaying a tremendous appetite for US beef and contributing significantly to the surge in export value. From high-end restaurants to convenience stores, US beef is gaining new fans across the globe on a daily basis.”

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-US suppliers.

With the new tariffs, July pork exports to Mexico decrease 4 percent from 2017 in volume to 56,484 metric tons. However, value continued to fall by 25 percent to $92 million.

Pork has also been dealing with export issues with China. On April 2, the import duty on US pork and pork variety meats entering China increased by 25 percent. On July 6, the rate increased to 62 percent.

For the Chinese market, pork exports continued to fall below average. July exports to China and Hong Kong were down 31 percent from 2017 with 22,199 mt.

Export value dropped 19 percent ($55.9 million) in the same category. For the first seven months, exports to China were 22 percent lower than 2017’s pace in volume (238,207 mt) and down 10 percent in value to $563 million.