WASHINGTON – In October there was an increased Chinese demand for pork, according to data from US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports are down, however, after higher totals in 2018.

Pork exports increased 8.5 percent over last year’s pace and finished at 225,376 metric tons (mt), while pork value was up 10 percent to $592 million.

Through October, pork exports went up 5 percent compared to the 2018 pace and ended at 2.13 million mt. Export values also increased by 3 percent to $5.48 billion.

Pork exports accounted for 24 percent of total October pork production and 20.9 percent for muscle cuts only, which is up from 23.6 and 20.7 percent, respectively. Through October, the percentage of total pork production exported was lower year-over-year at 26 percent and 22.6 percent for muscle cuts, which is a slight increase from 2018.

Pork export value averaged $48.13 per head slaughtered in October, which is up 4 percent from last year. Through the first 10 months, per-head average was down 1 percent to $51.12.

Meanwhile, US beef exports declined compared to 2018 with 108,017 mt, an 8 percent decline from last year’s volume. Export value decreased by 11 percent to $649.1 million.

During the last 10 months, beef exports were slightly below the record pace going down 2.5 percent in volume (1.1 million mt) and value ($6.75 billion).

Beef exports made up 12.9 percent of the total beef production in August, which is down slightly from 2018 (14.1 percent). The number for muscle cuts only was 10.5 percent which is also down from 11.6 percent a year ago.

For the first 10 months of 2019, beef exports accounted for 14.1 percent of total production and 11.5 percent for muscle cuts. Both are down one-half a percentage point year-over year.

October export value averaged $284.56 per head slaughtered, down 10 percent from 2018, January-October average was down 4 percent to $308.04.

Even with the continued trade dispute between the US and China, Asian countries are still the largest exporters of pork in October at 61,062 mt a 150 percent increase from 2018. Value increased 127 percent to $141.3 million. In the first 10 months of this year, exports are up 55 percent in volume (468,3576 mt) and 34 percent in value ($974.8 million).

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 61,365 mt but value increased 18 percent to $121.1 million. Following a slow start to the year, Mexican export numbers from January to August, were down 11 percent from 2018 in both volume (473,309 mt) and in value ($821.8 million).

Pork in Mexico continues to go up down with ongoing trade concerns on US pork. August pork exports to Mexico remained down 18.5 percent from 2018 in volume to 54,639 mt and value down 9 percent to $97.3 million. Mexican export numbers from January to August, were down 11 percent from 2018 in both volume (584,415 mt) and down 9 percent in value ($1.02 billion).

“China’s efforts to rebuild its domestic swine inventory, which has been hit hard by African Swine Fever, are gaining traction, but there are still excellent opportunities for pork-supplying countries,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “As US-China trade talks continue, we remain hopeful that access for US red meat in China will return to a level playing field with our competitors. Increased demand in China is pulling some pork cuts and offal away from Mexico as well as other markets, but October shipments to Mexico were nevertheless disappointing/ The US industry is still feeling the effect of Mexico’s retaliatory duties on pork, which were in place for about one year, and rebuilding pork demand in Mexico remains a top priority.”

Japan numbers were once again down, but US exports are expecting changes in 2020 with a new trade agreement between the two countries.

In October, the numbers were still down with pork volume down 16 percent from a year ago to 29,622 mt, while value fell 17 percent to $122.3 million. For beef, October exports went down 21 percent from 2018 to 21,315 mt and were down 19 percent in value to $135.5 million.