Beef and Pork market

Beef and pork exports moved higher in August.

According to USDA data, beef muscle cut exports were the largest in more than a year, up 3.5% from a year ago. Export value increased slightly.

Demand from South Korea and Taiwan set new records, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

August pork muscle cut exports were up 1% from a year ago, although value was down 11%.

Both beef and pork variety meat exports were down substantially. The USMEF says that is likely due to labor needs that are required to harvest and export those items.

“The upward trend in muscle cut exports is very encouraging and especially critical as beef and pork production continue to rebound from the interruptions earlier in the year,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says in a news release.

“Maintaining variety meat volumes has been especially challenging this year but we continue to expand and develop destinations for these items, which are essential to maximizing carcass value.”

The combined pork/pork variety meat exports were down 2% in August, with value down 10%. Despite that, U.S. pork exports remain on a record pace in 2020, with muscle cut exports from January through August up 22% from a year ago. Overall value is up 20%, according to the USMEF.

August pork exports to Japan were higher than a year ago, with exports to Vietnam setting a record for the second consecutive month. Exports to Colombia and Mexico remain below year-ago numbers, but those numbers show some improvement.

August beef muscle cut exports also set new records in China and Indonesia, and beef exports to Canada continued to gain momentum, according to the USMEF. Combined beef/beef variety meat exports in August were down 4.5% from a year ago. Export value was down 2% from a year ago, but the highest since March.

Halstrom says COVID-19 continues to impact many countries, but says the food service industry in China and Taiwan is beginning to improve, with progress in major markets such as Japan and South Korea.

“Record beef shipments to Korea, Taiwan and China show the kind of rebound U.S. beef can achieve as the food service sector gradually recovers and adapts, and we are excited to see demand strengthen further entering the fourth quarter,” he said. “Pork demand is also recovering in some of the regions hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions, and we see continued export growth in countries where domestic production has been impacted by African swine fever.”

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