April proved to be a relatively strong month for U.S. beef and pork exports despite COVID-19 related interruptions in production and economic headwinds in some key markets. Beef exports were below last April’s large totals but still topped $600 million in value. Pork exports remained well above year-ago levels but slowed from the record pace established in the first quarter. The U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) complete summary of the April results is available online.
In the audio clip below, USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom notes that Japan is a major bright spot for U.S. beef and pork exports in 2020, due in part to tariff relief delivered by the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement that entered into force Jan. 1. With its domestic pork production slowed by African swine fever, China continues to show very strong demand for U.S. pork and U.S. beef is also beginning to capitalize on the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. The red meat trade provisions of that agreement were implemented in late March.
While Halstrom expects global demand for U.S. red meat to remain strong this year, he cautioned that temporary supply disruptions will likely impact May and June results. He also notes that weakened currencies in Mexico and some other Latin American markets have slowed U.S. exports, as well as COVID-19 related restrictions on consumers and businesses in these countries.