Composite Beef Pork with meat cuts

Growing demand from China helped boost U.S. pork exports in October.

Export volume was up 8.5% from a year ago, while value increased by 3%, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Exports over the first 10 months of the year are up 5% from a year ago, but retaliatory tariffs are still cutting into demand, says Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO.

“China’s efforts to rebuild its domestic swine inventory, which has been hit hard by African swine fever, are gaining traction, but there are still excellent opportunities for pork-supplying countries,” he says. “As U.S.-China trade talks continue, we remain hopeful that access for U.S. red meat in China will return to a level playing field with our competitors.”

Pork exports to Mexico were down in volume and value in October, with volume down 18.5% and value falling by 9%. Both totals were the lowest since April.

“Increased demand in China is pulling some pork cuts and offal away from Mexico as well as other markets, but October shipments to Mexico were nevertheless disappointing,” Halstrom says. “The U.S. industry is still feeling the effect of Mexico’s retaliatory duties on pork, which were in place for about one year, and rebuilding pork demand in Mexico remains a top priority.”

Beef exports in October were down 8% from last year’s large volume, the USMEF says. Export values were down 11%.

Over the first 10 months of 2019, export values are down 4%.

A new trade agreement with Japan should help boost beef exports. The tariff for muscle cuts will drop by nearly one-third from its current rate of 38.5% and will be the same rate paid by Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

A second rate reduction will be implemented April 1.

“Japan’s 38.5% tariff rate is the highest U.S. beef faces in any major market,” Halstrom says. “It was a burden even when all suppliers were paying it, but now it is especially important that both U.S. beef and pork receive tariff relief.”

“Japanese customers are very excited about the new trade agreement, and USMEF and our industry partners are ramping up 2020 promotions and strategies to reclaim red meat market share in Japan.”

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