Pork retail cuts

Growing demand from China and Hong Kong has helped boost pork prices, including a record-setting month in November.

Export volume grew by 284% from a year ago, according to analysis by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. That’s a jump in value of $204.9 million dollars.

Over the first 11 months of 2019, export volume was up 71%, with a value of $1.18 billion.

At the same time, the value of exports to Mexico grew by 28% in November despite a dip in tonnage. The decrease was partially due to increased exports from Canada into Mexico.

“While the surge in pork shipments to China will capture most of the headlines this month, it is equally encouraging to see export value to Mexico make such a strong recovery,” Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO, said in a news release.

“Getting exports to Mexico back to the record levels of 2017 and early 2018 is a top priority for the U.S. pork industry because demand from Mexico is such an important driver of profitability for everyone in the supply chain. The same is true in Japan, so it’s very important to reclaim lost share in these longtime mainstay markets.”

Pork exports into Japan were down 3% from a year ago, with value down 1%. Over the first 11 months of 2019, export volume was down by 6%, with value levels down 7%.

Tariff rates to Japan were lowered significantly on Jan. 1, which the USMEF believes should boost U.S. pork exports into the country.

Beef exports into South Korea continued on a record pace in November, with volume and export values up 6% through the first 11 months of the year. The U.S. accounts for just over 60% of chilled beef imports into South Korea, according to the USMEF.

Exports to Taiwan are on schedule to post a record for the fourth consecutive year. Volume was up 8% from a year ago, with total value up 7%. Overall, exports are up 8% through November, with an increased value of 4%.

“The Japanese market performed extremely well for U.S. beef in 2018, even though we were already facing a tariff rate disadvantage versus Australia,” Halstrom said.

“More competitors saw tariff rate cuts in 2019 under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which further tilted the playing field against U.S. beef. For example, Canada’s beef exports to Japan increased 57% last year. So the rate cuts Japan recently implemented for U.S. beef are long overdue, and USMEF is working aggressively with U.S. exporters and the Japanese trade to capitalize.”

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