WASHINGTON – US pork export numbers in July were significantly higher compared to 2018 numbers, according to the latest report issued by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume was up 32 percent year-over-year in July to 232,242 metric tons, which topped a previous record from April 2018. Pork value also increased 34 percent to $623.3 million, breaking another record high from Nov. 2017. Through July, pork exports were 2 percent ahead of the 2018 pace at 1.48 million mt. Export value decreased 2 percent at 3.77 billion. 

Pork exports accounted for 29.3 percent of the total pork production in July and 25.9 percent for muscle cuts only. Both are up from 24.7 percent and 21.7 percent in 2018, respectively. 

Through July, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year at 26.3 percent (27 percent in 2018) and 22.9 percent compared to 23 percent in 2018 for muscle cuts only. Pork July export value averaged $58.92 per head slaughtered, which is up 22 percent from 2018 and the highest in five years.

July beef exports increased 1 percent from a year ago to 117,842 mt, while export value was slightly down at $720.4 million. The value was still the seventh-highest monthly total on record.

January-July beef exports were two percent below the 2018 pace in volume at  766,607 mt, and value was slightly down at $4.75 billion. Beef exports made up 14.4 percent of total beef production and 11.8 percent for muscle cuts only, which is down from 15.1 percent and 12.9 percent in 2018. 

For the first seven months of 2019, beef exports accounted for 14.1 percent of total production and 11.6 percent for muscle cuts only. Each category was down 0.5 percent from January-July 2018.

July beef export value averaged $308.47 per head slaughtered, which is down 7 percent from a year ago, while the seven-month export value averaged $311.51 per head, down 2 percent.

Since Mexico lifted the 20 percent retaliatory tariff on US pork products in May, pork exports have rebounded significantly. July pork exports to Mexico were up 19 percent with volume to 67,161 mt compared to 2018. Value also increased 38 percent to $126.7 million. However, results from January-July still trail last year by 12 percent in volume (411,944 mt) and 14 percent in value ($700.7 million).

"USMEF anticipated a rebound in Mexico once duty-free status was restored for US pork," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "But I want to emphasize that we did not take this recovery for granted. While those retaliatory duties were in place, USMEF ramped up our outreach with processors and other major buyers in Mexico and worked closely with them to keep product moving south, and with the duties removed we're seeing the results of these efforts. Now ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement is critical to ensure long-term duty-free access to this key market."

Despite ongoing retaliatory duties on US pork, exports to China and Hong Kong helped boost the record volume and value for July. For the first seven months, China/Hong Kong was up 23 percent in volume (292,666 mt) and 3 percent in value ($580.3 million). China's hog prices soared to record levels in August due to ongoing hog shortages caused by African Swine Fever.

Japan remains a steady trading partner with July pork exports at 31,019 mt and a 5 percent increase in value at $133.2 million. Through July, exports to Japan were down 3 percent in volume (222,300 mt) and 4 percent in value ($906.7 million). The US pork faces higher tariff rates than its competitors, but the Trump Administration did announce a new trade agreement on Aug. 25 that will reduce tariffs on American beef, pork and other agricultural products.

Lamb exports continued to climb in July with demand growing in Mexico and the Caribbean. July exports reached 1,650 mt up 36 percent from 2018. Export value was at $2.4 million, up 11 percent and the highest since February. In muscle cuts only since the beginning of the year, exports were lower by 16 percent from 2018 in volume to 1,290 mt and 2 percent higher in value to $8.6 million.