Split Screen Cattle Hogs and meat products

Pork exports continued on a record pace in July, while beef exports rebounded some but remain below 2019 numbers, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“With production returning to near-normal levels, we definitely saw an improvement in beef exports, though the recovery was not quite as strong as expected,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “China's pork demand has moderated and we are also entering a time when year-over-year gains are not nearly as dramatic, as exports to China began gaining momentum in mid-2019.

“But pork exports to Mexico showed encouraging signs of recovery in July and we also saw promising growth in several emerging markets, including Vietnam and the Philippines.”

July beef exports were up 36% from June but were still 9% below year-ago levels. Export values in July totaled $647.8 million, the highest number since March but still down 10% from 2019.

A boost in export numbers could be coming soon.

“It is also important to remember that the monthly export data is in the rear-view mirror and that weekly export sales data, along with observations from our USMEF-China team, suggest that China's demand for both U.S. pork and beef will be strong through the balance of the year, including purchases for Chinese New Year,” Halstrom said. “When combined with the rebound in other main markets, growth in emerging markets and the return of the U.S. supply advantage, USMEF remains optimistic about a strong finish for U.S. red meat exports in 2020, despite many challenges related to COVID-19."

July beef exports to China increased sharply year-over-year and shipments trended higher to Taiwan, Canada and Hong Kong. Export numbers to Japan and South Korea were lower, with a significant decline to Mexico. Overall, beef exports are down 9% from January through July.

July pork exports were down 5% from a year ago, while export value fell 12%. Exports increased year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, Canada, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Caribbean, while exports to Mexico remained below last year but were the largest since March, according to USMEF.

Shipments to Japan were also down from a year ago but the largest since April. For January through July, pork exports remained 20% ahead of last year’s record pace in volume.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.