DENVER – According to data released by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports for the month of August totaled 119,850 metric tons, valued at almost $752 million, and 7 percent higher than one year ago. Value on beef exports increased year-over-year by 11 percent breaking the previous record of $722 million set in May of this year. January through August exports totaled 899,300 metric tons, an increase of 9 percent from last year with a value of $5.51 billion, up 18 percent.

Through August, muscle cut exports were 14 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (692,234 mt) and 21 percent higher in value ($4.93 billion).

More than 13 percent of total beef production came from August exports, up 12.5 percent from a year ago. Muscle cuts exported accounted for 11.2 percent, up from 10.4 percent a year ago. For January through August, 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. Export beef value averaged $320.92 a head of fed slaughter in August, 11 percent higher than a year ago. The January through August average was up 16 percent at $318.66.

“US beef exports continue to achieve tremendous growth, not only in our mainstay Asian markets but in the Western Hemisphere as well,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a statement. “USMEF is excited about the recent market access developments achieved by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and USDA, with favorable terms being preserved in Mexico, Canada and South Korea and trade talks getting underway with Japan. A trade agreement with Japan would bring opportunities for even greater expansion as US beef becomes more affordable for Japanese consumers and is back on a level playing field with Australian beef.”

Pork export volume decreased by 1 percent from last year to 182,372 metric tons and value went down 3 percent to $494.1 million. Muscle cuts of pork performed better in August with increasing 5 percent to 148,736 metric tons. However, value decreased 1 percent to $414.7 million. Pork variety meat exports declined sharply in August in both volume (33,636 mt, down 20 percent) and value ($79.4 million, down 15 percent).

Pork exports in August accounted for 21.9 percent of total production, down 21.3 percent from one year ago, but muscle cut exports held steady at 19.2 percent. January through August, exports equaled 26.3 percent of total pork production (down from 26.9 percent a year ago), while the percentage of muscle cuts exported was 22.8 percent (up from 22.4 percent). Average price per head slaughtered in August was down 8 percent from a year ago at an average of $44.29. January through August per-head average dropped 1 percent to $53.28.

“Pork exports have posted an impressive performance in 2018, but the retaliatory duties are a clearly a significant obstacle,” Halstrom explained. “The fact that US trade officials were able to secure duty-free access for US red meat in the new US, Mexico and Canada Agreement is critically important, and we are hopeful that duty-free access for US pork entering Mexico will be restored soon. Tariff relief in China may not come as quickly, but USMEF continues to work with industry partners to keep as much product as possible moving to China while also working aggressively to expand exports in other key markets, including Korea, Central and South America, the ASEAN region and Australia.”