Trade Data Shows a Surge in Pork Buying by Mexico and China in June

Posted on 08/07/2019 12:18 PM

U.S. pork exports during June were up double-digits versus year-ago in terms of both volume and value during June. Exports totaled 212,887 MT during June, an 11% gain from year-ago, valued at $569.2 million, up 12% from year-ago, according to USDA data analyzed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). But for the first half of the calendar year, pork exports are still running behind year-ago in terms of volume (2%) and value (6%).

On May 20, Mexico lifted a 20% tariff on imports of most U.S. pork, which helped bolster June exports of the meat to Mexico to 59,837 MT, their highest level since January. USMEF says it is working to get back to the record-setting 2012 to 2017 growth trend it had established in Mexico prior to the metal dispute.

USMEF also notes that “Despite retaliatory duties remaining in place, June also brought an encouraging rise in pork exports to China, which were the largest in more than three years at 41,704 MT (up 123% year-over-year), valued at $88.5 million (up 77%). This pushed first-half exports to China 23% ahead of last year in volume (177,060 MT) and 3% higher in value ($353.1 million).” But the EU remains China’s biggest supplier.

Another focal point for the pork (and beef) market is Japan. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership gave our competitors more favorable trade treatment. Efforts are underway to reach an ag and autos trade deal with the country by September. Japan is the leading value destination for U.S. pork, and shipments of the meat are lagging year-ago by 4% in volume and 6% in value for the first half of the year. It is also the top destination for U.S. beef. Shipments of U.S. beef are running 1% behind year-ago both in terms of value and volume for the first half of the year.

Beef exports as a whole during June were up 3% from year-ago at 118,677 MT, and the value of that meat was up 1% at $724.8 million. But USMEF points out that “trailed only August 2018, May 2019, and October 2018 for the highest monthly value total on record.”

Beef exports during the first half of the year were down 2% from year-ago in terms of volume and steady with last year’s pace in terms of volume.

U.S. beef is making “remarkable” gains in Korea and Taiwan, USMEF notes. Last year, South Korea passed Mexico as the second-largest destination for U.S. beef and it continues to close the gap on the leading market of Japan. For the first half of the year, South Korean imports are up 12% from year-ago in terms of volume and 15% in terms of value. U.S. beef now represents 61% of South Korea’s chilled beef imports.

Beef imports to Taiwan are also up an impressive 16% in volume and 11% in value for the first six months of the year, but the scale of its purchases are substantially under that of South Korea and other top markets.  

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