The U.S. exported 109,799 MT of beef during September, which was near steady with last year’s volume, but the value of that product slid 4% year-over-year to $661.3 million, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) analysis of USDA trade data out earlier this week. For the first nine months of the year, beef exports are running 2% behind last year’s record both in terms of volume and value.
“While red meat exports face obstacles in some key markets, global demand dynamics are strong and we see opportunities for significant growth in the fourth quarter and into 2020,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Progress is being made on market access improvements and this makes for a very positive outlook going forward.”
One of those areas where the U.S. hopes to see gains is in the leading market of Japan. Members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership enjoy a tariff rate advantage that has them gaining market share at the expense of the U.S. For the first three quarters of the year, exports to Japan are down 4% in terms of volume and 5% in terms of value.
“Japan is still delivering excellent value for U.S. beef producers, but tariff relief cannot come soon enough,” Halstrom explained, referring to the recently signed U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which is being discussed and considered for approval by the Japanese Parliament.
The benefits of a trade deal with South Korea are working to producers’ advantage. Beef exports to the country are building on last year’s record-setting performance, with exports up 8% in volume and 2% in volume for the first nine months of the year.
U.S. pork exports during September surged 13% in terms of volume and value to 202,248 MT and $532.2 million, respectively. Three quarters into 2019, pork exports are running 5% ahead of last year at 1.9 MMT, with the value of those shipments up 2% to $4.89 billion.
The rebuilding effort continues in Mexico. It lifted a 20% retaliatory duty (in response to U.S. tariffs on steel) on U.S. pork in late May, and pork exports to our southern neighbor have since rebounded significantly, but not yet to the record-high pre-tariff levels of 2017 and early 2018. Exports for the first nine months of the year are 10% year-ago in terms of volume and 9% in terms of value. “Although the U.S. industry has made rebuilding pork demand in Mexico a top priority, there is definitely a lingering effect from the retaliatory duties, which were in place for nearly a full year,” Halstrom said. This could speak of things to come with China.
Exports to China/Hong Kong are another focal point. September pork shipments to the regions were up a dramatic 158% from year-ago at 51,192 MT, but they were down from large tallies the previous two months. From January to September, the U.S. has exported 407,514 MT of pork to China/Hong Kong, a 47% surge from last year.