April exports of U.S. beef and pork were lower than a year ago while U.S. lamb exports continued their upward trend, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
See: DROVERS: April 2019 Beef Exports Lower; Demand Remains Strong in Korea, Taiwan
Pork exports totaled 216,757 mt in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $535.2 million (down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year’s pace in volume (817,025 mt) and were down 12% in value to just over $2 billion.
Pork export value averaged $50.58 per head slaughtered in April, down 13% from a year ago but the highest in 10 months. For January through April, export value averaged $47.25 per head, down 15% from the same period last year. April exports accounted for 26.6% of total U.S. pork production and 23.3% for muscle cuts only – down from 29.9% and 25.8%, respectively, in April 2018. January-April exports accounted for 24.9% of total pork production (down from 27.4%) and 21.8% for muscle cuts (down from 23.7%).
Latin America, Oceania, Taiwan bolster pork exports
On May 20, the 20% retaliatory duty on most U.S. pork entering Mexico was removed, as the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached an agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs. This was obviously too late to boost April pork exports to Mexico, which sank 30% from a year ago in volume (54,971 mt) and 29% in value to $94.5 million. For January through April, exports to Mexico were down 18% in volume (232,391 mt) and 29% in value ($356.5 million).
“Lifting of Mexico’s retaliatory duties was the most welcome news the U.S. pork industry has received in a long time,” Halstrom said. “Now let’s hope the duty-free access U.S. pork has enjoyed in Mexico since late May isn’t short-lived.”
President Trump has proposed a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico unless more steps are taken to curb illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The tariff would take effect June 10 and increase to 25% by Oct. 1, but negotiations are ongoing and Mexico has not yet announced any retaliatory measures.
U.S. pork also faces a significant disadvantage in China, where retaliatory duties remain in effect and competitors are positioning to fill China’s looming African swine fever-driven pork shortfall. January-April exports to China/Hong Kong were 16% below last year’s pace in volume (128,200 mt) and down 32% in value ($242 million).
Leading value market Japan has not imposed any new tariffs on U.S. pork but its main competitors (European, Canadian and Mexican pork) have gained tariff relief in 2019. January-April exports of U.S. pork to Japan were down 7% from a year ago in volume (123,166 mt) and fell 9% in value ($493.3 million), as U.S. share of Japan’s total imports fell from 36% last year to 32%. The sharpest decline was in Japan’s imports of U.S. ground seasoned pork, which were down nearly $40 million.
January-April highlights for U.S. pork include:
A strong performance in mainstay market Colombia and excellent growth in Chile and Peru drove exports to South America 44% above last year’s record pace in volume (57,005 mt) and 42% higher in value ($136.9 million). In Colombia, where USMEF has helped bolster demand for U.S. pork through promotional campaigns, educational seminars and enhanced efforts to overcome technical barriers, exports climbed 25% from a year ago to 37,283 mt valued at $79.6 million (up 17%). Last year, even with domestic production on the rise, the Colombian market took more than $215 million in U.S. pork, more than double the value exported in 2016.
Exports to Central America are also coming off a record year in 2018 and climbed 11% in volume (29,321 mt) and 8% in value ($68.3 million), led by growth in Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica.
- April exports to Australia were the largest of 2019, pushing January-April volume to 37,979 mt (up 37% from last year’s record pace) valued at $98.6 million (up 21%). Exports to New Zealand are also performing extremely well in 2019, climbing 53% in volume (3,390 mt) and 36% in value ($10.1 million). Oceania is a strong region for U.S. hams used for further processing, which is especially important at a time when ham exports to Mexico and China were being pressured by tariffs.
- Despite facing ractopamine-related restrictions in Taiwan, exports increased 80% in volume (8,819 mt) and 55% in value ($19.3 million). Exports to Taiwan slumped in 2016 but have been rebounding over the past 2½ years.