DENVER – US beef exports remained solid in September while retaliatory duties in Mexico and China continue to challenge pork exports, according to US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports were down compared to the record results seen in August, but still increased noticeably year-over-year. Exports of pork muscle cuts improved over last September, but lower shipments of variety meat offset volume significantly.

Total beef exports for September increased 6 percent from a year ago at 110,160 metric tons (mt), and value increased 11 percent to $687.1 million. January through September saw beef exports at just over 1 million mt, a 9 percent increase from a year ago. Value shot to $6.2 billion, up 18 percent from a year ago. Year-over-year beef muscle cuts increased 13 percent in volume at 777,740 mt and 20 percent in value at $5.4 billion.

For the month of September, 13.7 percent of the beef produced was exported and 11.4 percent was muscle cuts only, up 12.5 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively, from a year ago. The first three quarters of this year saw exports increase from 12.8 percent to 13.5 percent of total production, and up a full percentage point from last year to 11.1 percent for muscle cuts only. Beef export value equated to $334.63 per head of fed slaughter in September and $320.85 for January through September, each up 16 percent from a year ago.

Pork export volume decreased 2 percent from a year ago to 179,423 mt, and export value decreased 7 percent to $470.2 million. While muscle cuts increased to 146,542 mt from a year ago, value went to $397.6 million, a 3 percent decline. Pork variety meat exports went down in both volume, an 18 percent drop to 32,881 mt, and value — a 21 percent drop to $72.6 million. In the period from January through September, pork and pork variety meat exports combined gained 1 percent against last year’s record pace at 1.81 million mt and 2 percent higher in value at $4.79 billion. Pork muscle cut exports increased in volume by 6 percent from a year ago and 3 percent in value to almost $4 billion.

Pork exports in the month of September accounted for 24.8 percent of total production, an increase from 23.6 percent from a year ago. Muscle cut only exports accounted for 21.8 percent, up two percentage points from last September. For January through September, pork exports accounted for 26.1 percent of total production, down from 26.5 percent last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22.1 to 22.7 percent. Per head slaughtered export value decreased 1 percent from a year ago September and for January through September to $48.72 and $52.46 respectively.

“With a full quarter still to be reported, beef export value records are already being surpassed in some markets and global value is on track for $8 billion by year’s end,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Pork exports have also held up relatively well, but unfortunately the obstacles US pork faces in China and Mexico are putting a lot of pressure on export value.”

Of note is South Korea setting the pace for growth in 2018 US beef exports. Export beef to Korea was up 22 percent in volume at 19,116 mt and 29 percent in value at $143.1 million for the month of September. January through September exports to Korea significantly increased from a year ago to reach 180,495 mt, up 37 percent. Export value climbed 51 percent to $1.29 billion and broke last year’s full-year value record, including a 28 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 40,372 mt, valued at $391 million, a 38 percent increase. US share of Korea’s total beef imports has increased sharply this year, from 44.7 to 48.7 percent, as US beef underpins Korea’s growing beef consumption.