First quarter 2016 beef and pork exports came in 2% above year-ago after a solid showing in March. According to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) beef exports of 89,482 MT in March were 3% above year-ago and the value of those exports was down from year-ago, but the highest since December. March pork exports of 195,898 MT were the largest in 11 months and 3% over year-ago; the value of those exports was down 3% from year-ago, but the highest since May 2015.
"Exports showed an encouraging level of improvement in March, especially to our key Asian markets," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "The U.S. pork industry is now better positioned to capitalize on strong demand in China. Pork exports to Japan were also higher, though we are still in a very tough battle for market share as Japan's imports from Europe increased at a faster pace. On the beef side, exports continued to perform well in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. So while U.S. exports continue to recover from a down year in 2015, volumes are on track for improvement in most markets this year."
USDA currently projects 2016 beef exports to be up 8.3% from 2015 and for pork exports to improve by 5.2% from year-ago. Given the sharp decline in the U.S. dollar so far this year, there is no urgency for USDA to lower its export projections in next week's Supply & Demand Report, especially with exports picking up some momentum.