U.S. pork exports were strong in August, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
August pork exports were 221,582 metric tons (mt), an increase of 22% from last year, while export value climbed 19% to $588.8 million. With these numbers, January-August export volume is 4% ahead of last year’s pace at 1.7 million mt, and value increased 1% to $4.35 billion.
Export value averaged $54.18 per head slaughtered in August, up 22% from a year ago, according to the USMEF report. January-August per-head average was down 2% to $51.70.
Exports counted for 27.1% of total U.S. pork production in August, and 23.7% for muscle cuts only, which is up significantly from a year ago (21.9% for exports and 19.2% for muscle cuts). January to August exports represented 26.4% of total pork production, and 23% for muscle cuts, both of which are up slightly year-over-year.
Even though it is still held back by China’s retaliatory duties, China and Hong Kong were the largest destination for U.S. pork in August, with 63,656 mt reaching the countries. This more than triples the August 2018 volume, while the export value rose 160% to $137.6 million. For January-August, exports to China and Hong Kong were up 35% in volume (356,322 mt) and 17% in value ($717.9 million), according to the report.
After Mexico removed its 20% retaliatory duty on U.S. pork in May, exports have rebounded significantly, but are still trailing the record-high numbers for 2017. Exports in August to Mexico were down 1% year-over-year in volume (61,365 mt), but value increased 18% to $121.1 million. The January-August average was impacted by the slow start to the year, as exports were down 11% from last year in both volume, 473,309 mt, and value, $821.8 million.
"China's demand for imported pork has increased steadily over the past few months and the U.S. industry is well-positioned to help fill that need," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom in the report. "But the really positive story behind these numbers is that even as U.S. exports to China/Hong Kong have surged and exports to Mexico rebounded after the removal of retaliatory duties, demand in other markets is proving resilient and continues to grow. This is exactly why the U.S. industry invested in emerging markets over the years, and it is definitely paying dividends."
A recently announced agreement between U.S. and Japan that will bring tariffs on U.S. pork in line with the tariffs imposed on major competitors and August results showed the need for tariff relief. August volume was down 19% to 28,240 mt, while value fell 18% to $120.1 million.
Through August, exports to Japan trailed last year’s pace by 6% in both volume (250,540 mt), and value ($1.03 billion).
Exports of ground seasoned pork to Japan have been impacted particularly hard by the tariff gap, with imports through August falling by 28% compared to last year.
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