Cattle hogs split screen

Beef exports continued to set records in November, according to the USDA’s latest trade figures and an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

November exports were up 1 percent from a year ago, while export values for beef grew by 6 percent. From January through November, beef exports were up 8 percent and values were up 16 percent.

“These numbers highlight the strong international demand for U.S. beef, as exports are accounting for a larger share of growing U.S. production and are fetching higher prices, with some U.S. cuts trading at record prices in Asia,” the USMEF says in its analysis.

The export value per head averaged just under $323 in November, up 5 percent from a year ago and up 14 percent over the first 11 months of 2018. Exports accounted for 13.1 percent of total November production.

Pork exports, on the other hand, were down 8 percent in November, thanks in large part to retaliatory tariffs in major markets. From January through November, pork exports were nearly even with year-ago figures, while pork values were down 1 percent.

“2018 was truly a remarkable year for U.S. beef exports, which shattered previous records in both volume and value and reached new heights in several of our top markets,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “In the first half of the year, pork exports were also on a very positive trajectory, but unfortunately U.S. pork has been heavily targeted for retaliation.

“We remain hopeful that these disputes can be resolved soon, so that U.S. pork can get back on a level playing field with its competitors.”

According to the USMEF, November beef exports remained strong to key Asian markets such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Exports to Japan were up 7 percent in volume and 10 percent in value.

The federation says there are concerns regarding market access to Japan, with competing beef exporters joining Australia in receiving an 11 percentage point tariff advantage through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. U.S. beef will continue to deal with a 38.5 percent tariff, as well as Japan’s quarterly safeguard mechanism.

The U.S. has already broken its export value record in shipments to Korea, with values rising 45 percent already this year. Export volume is up 32 percent. Because of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, the duty paid to access the Korean market is just 18.7 percent, down from 40 percent.

According to the USMEF, exports to China grew each month over the second half of 2018, other than in September. A new monthly high of 890 metric tons was exported to China in November.

Beef exports also saw strong growth into the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as increased growth into Indonesia.

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