A strengthening market in South Korea and Taiwan pushed June beef export value to the fourth-highest total on record. Meanwhile, June pork exports posted double-digit gains in both volume and value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef and pork exports were above year-ago levels in both volume and value in June.
Beef exports were up 3% year-over-year in June to 118,677 mt. Export value totaled $724.8 million. First-half 2019 beef exports were down 2% from a year ago in volume (648,765 mt) but held steady with last year's record value pace at $4.03 billion.
Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $325.10 in June, up 4% from a year ago, while first-half export value averaged $312.06 per head, down 2%.
June exports accounted for 15.4% of total U.S. beef production, up nearly a full percentage point from last year. For muscle cuts only, exports accounted for 12.7% of production — up from 12.3% last year and the highest ratio since July 2018. For the first half of the year, exports accounted for 14.2% of total production and 11.6% for muscle cuts — down from 14.6% and 11.9%, respectively, a year ago.
"It is very gratifying to see U.S. beef posting such remarkable gains in Korea and Taiwan, and the $2 billion milestone could even be in play this year for Korea," USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said. "Exports to Japan can definitely achieve a similar trajectory if the U.S. can get back on a level playing field with our competitors, so we are encouraged by the progress in the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations."
Led by a rebound in Mexico and China, pork export value was the highest in 14 months. June pork exports posted double-digit gains in both volume and value, reaching 212,887 metric tons (mt), up 11% year-over-year, valued at $569.2 million (up 12%). For the first half of 2019, pork exports remained 2% below last year in volume (1.25 million mt) and were down 6% in value to $3.14 billion.
Pork export value averaged $56.99 per head slaughtered in June, up 7% from a year ago and the highest monthly average since April 2018. First-half export value averaged $50.05 per head, down 9% from the same period last year.
June exports accounted for 27.8% of total U.S. pork production and 24% for muscle cuts only, up from 25.8% and 22.4%, respectively, a year ago. For January through June, exports accounted for 25.8% of total pork production (down from 27.3%) and 22.4% for muscle cuts (down from 23.6%).
"It's a tremendous relief to have Mexico's retaliatory duties on U.S. pork behind us, as the June bump in export value clearly illustrates," Halstrom said. "Now the goal is to get back to the record-setting trend the U.S. industry established in Mexico from 2012 through 2017, prior to the metal tariff dispute. USMEF's marketing programs have ramped up in Mexico so that we can recapture lost market share and regain momentum in this critical market for U.S. pork."