DENVER – US beef export numbers remained positive in October while pork exports rebounded somewhat from the impact of retaliatory duties from Mexico and China throughout 2018, according to US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). 

Exports of US beef advanced 6 percent from a year ago to 117,838 mt, while export value increased 10 percent to $727.4 million. January through October saw beef exports at 1.13 million mt, a 9 percent increase from a year ago. Value went up to $6.92 billion, up 17 percent from a year ago. Year-over-year beef muscle cuts increased 12 percent in volume at 867,714 mt and 19 percent in value at $6.19 billion.

For the month of October, 13 percent of the beef produced was exported and 11.6 percent was muscle cuts only, which was down slightly. The first 10 months of the year saw exports increase from 12.8 percent to 13.5 percent of total production. For muscle cuts only, it went from 10.2 percent in 2017 to 11.1 percent in 2018. Beef export value equated to $320.50 per head of fed slaughter in January through October.

“Demand for US beef continues to climb in nearly every region of the world, with annual records already falling in some markets,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “Per-head export value will also easily set a new record in 2018, which illustrates the strong returns exports are delivering for cattle producers and for the entire supply chain.”

Pork exports was at 207,725 mt, the largest since May but still 2 percent lower year-over-year. According to the USMEF smaller variety of meat exports remains a factor. Export value rose to 536.5 million, another high since May, but it is still down 5 percent from 2017. Through October, pork exports were 1 percent ahead of the 2017 pace at 2.02 million mt, and export value climbed 1 percent to $5.53 billion. For pork muscle cuts only in January through October exports increased to 1.63 million mt or 5 percent from a year ago in volume. This valued at $4.43 billion and up 2 percent.

Pork exports in the month of October accounted for 23.6 percent of total production, down from 25.4 percent a year ago. Muscle cut only exports accounted for 20.7 percent, down from 21.6 percent last October. For January through October, pork exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total production, down from 26.4 percent last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22 to 22.5 percent. Per head slaughtered export value decreased 10 percent from a year ago October and for January through October $46.07 and $51.74 respectively.

“Despite some very significant obstacles, global demand dynamics for US pork remain strong,” Halstrom said. “We are hopeful that the events of the past week – the signing of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the return of trade negotiations between the US and China – represent progress toward elimination of retaliatory duties imposed by key trading partners. If we can put that situation behind us, US pork is well-positioned to regain the momentum displayed early in the year.”

Halstrom added that upcoming trade negotiations with Japan are critical for the US pork and beef industries, as all major competitors in the Japanese market will soon benefit from significant tariff reductions. USMEF, along with producers, exporters and other industry organizations submitted comments to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) underscoring the importance and urgency of these negotiations and will convey these points again in USTR’s Dec. 10 public hearing.

US lamb exports improved at a significant rate for 2018. Exports volume climbed 107 percent to 1,161 mt. Export value was $1.96 million, up 48 percent. Through October, lamb exports were 69 percent higher year-over-year in volume (10,371 mt) and up 24 percent in value ($19 million).