Beef pork split with meat cuts

Pork exports continued to break records in January, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation. January beef exports were also higher year-over-year.

The USMEF says pork exports were down slightly from December but still outpaced year-ago numbers. Both the January export volume of 273,603 metric tons, up 36% year-over-year, and export value ($738.7 million, up 50%) were the second highest on record.

Export value per head slaughtered was $62.53, up 40% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 29.8% of total pork production.

The USMEF says beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5% from a year ago in volume (107,374 metric tons) and 5% in value ($672.7 million). However, beef muscle cut exports were the highest ever for the month of January at 81,342 metric tons, up 4% from a year ago, while muscle cut value increased 5% to $589.2 million.

Export value per head of fed slaughter was $302.93, up 3% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 13.1% of total beef production, down slightly from a year ago.

USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom says this happened as coronavirus began to dominate headlines. The impact will be more detailed in February and March reports.

“The first quarantine actions in China were taken in late January, and the calendar had turned to February before coronavirus became a major health concern in countries such as South Korea and Japan,” Halstrom said.

“Retail meat sales have remained strong and both retailers and restaurateurs are utilizing e-commerce and delivery services at unprecedented levels. While it’s definitely a challenging situation, the Asian food industry is adapting to these conditions and finding creative ways to accommodate consumers.”

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong soared in January, increasing by 263% from a year ago. Exports to Mexico were up 6% from a year ago, with chilled bone-in ham and shoulder cuts remaining the featured attraction.

“The January data really underscore the difficult situation U.S. pork was facing in Mexico a year ago,” Halstrom said. “Exporters kept much of the volume moving, but the U.S. industry absorbed most of the 20% duty in the form of lower prices. With duty-free access restored and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement moving toward implementation, we look forward to a continued rebound in Mexico’s demand for U.S. pork.”

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