WASHINGTON –September pork and beef export results continued to show steady growth, according to the latest reported numbers by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

September pork exports increased 13 percent with last year’s pace and finished at 202,248 metric tons (mt), while pork value was up 13 percent to $532.2 million.

Through September, pork exports went up 5 percent compared to the 2018 pace and ended at 1.9 million mt. Export values also increased by 2 percent to $4.89 billion.

Pork exports accounted for 25.1 percent of total September pork production, which is slightly up and 21.7 percent for muscle cuts only, which is slightly down. Through September, the percentage of total pork production exported was at 26.3 percent and 22.8 percent for muscle cuts, which was slightly up from a year ago.

Pork export value averaged $49.98 per head slaughtered in September, which is up 3 percent from last year. Through the first nine months, per-head average was down 2 percent to $51.50.

Meanwhile, US beef exports remained even compared to 2018 with 109,799 mt. Export values decreased by 4 percent to $661.3 million. During the last nine months, beef exports were slightly below the record pace going down 2 percent in volume (991,325 mt) and 2 percent in value ($6.1 billion).

Beef exports made up for 14.6 percent of the total beef production in September, which is down slightly from 2018 (14.8 percent). The number for muscle cuts only was 11.9 percent which is also down from 12.4 percent a year ago.

For the first nine months of 2019, beef exports accounted for 14.3 percent of total production (down from 14.6 percent) and 11.6 percent for muscle cuts (down from 12.1 percent). 

September export value averaged $318.54 per head slaughtered, which is up significantly from August, but still 5 percent below last year’s numbers. January-September average was down 3 percent to $310.77.

“While red meat exports face obstacles in some key markets, global demand dynamics are strong and we see opportunities for significant growth in the fourth quarter and into 2020,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Progress is being made on market access improvements and this makes for a very positive outlook going forward.”

Pork exports numbers continue to rise in China/Hong Kong but they have slowed from the past few months as China domestic pork supplies continues to feel pressure from African Swine Fever (ASF).The September pork volume sat at 51,192 mt, which is up 158 percent from 2018. Value also increased 123 percent to $115.6 million. In the first nine months of this year, exports are up 47 percent in volume (407,514 mt) and 25 percent in value ($833.5 million).

“Obviously we are anxious to learn the details of the phase 1 agreement between the US and China and hopeful that it removes obstacles for US pork,” Halstrom said. “Exports to China/Hong Kong are improving, but certainly not to the level that could be achieved if US pork returned to normal tariff levels and if the US-China agreement addresses non-tariff barriers as well.”

Pork in Mexico continues to bounce back after the removal of the 20 percent retaliatory duty on US pork in late May. Numbers continue to increase but still are behind the record numbers posted in 2017.

August pork exports to Mexico remained down 1 percent from 2018 in volume to 56,467 mt but value increased 7 percent to $97.6 million. Following a slow start to the year, Mexican export numbers from January-August, were down 10 percent from 2018 in both volume (529,776 mt) and 9 percent in value ($919.4 million).

With the US-Japan trade agreement in place, the US pork industry should see some benefit during the rest of 2019. However, in September the numbers were still down with August volume decreasing 8 percent to 27,812 mt, while value fell 5 percent to $116.2 million compared to 2018.

For beef, September exports went down to 24,041 mt in volume and were down 14 percent in value to $148.3 million.

“Japan is still delivering excellent value for US beef producers, but tariff relief cannot come soon enough,” Halstrom explained, referring to the recently signed US-Japan trade agreement, which is being discussed and considered for approval by the Japanese Parliament. “With a level playing field, the US beef industry will move a wider range of products to our loyal customers in Japan and will definitely capitalize on emerging growth opportunities.”

Lamb August exports went up 22 percent to 1,435 mt, while value increased 9 percent to $1.77 million. For the first nine months of the year, exports did increase 31 percent above 2018 pace at 12,061 mt, while value increased 13 percent to $19.3 million.