Slaughter weights

Pork exports broke records in July. Exports were up 232,242 metric tons or 32% from a year ago, topping the previous record set in April 2018.

According to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation, pork export values came in at $623.3 million, up 34% and higher than the previous record set in November 2017.

These results pushed January-July exports 2% ahead of last year’s pace at 1.48 million metric tons, while value was down 2% at $3.77 billion, according to the USMEF.

Beef exports were up 1% from a year ago, while the export value of $720.4 million was down slightly from July 2018. The USMEF says this still represents the seventh highest value month on record.

Much of this can be traced to growing momentum for pork exports to Mexico, says Dan Halstrom, USMEF chief executive officer.

USMEF says since Mexico lifted the 20% retaliatory pork duty in late May, exports have jumped. July exports were up 19% from a year ago, while value grew by 38%.

Momentum also continues to grow in China, USMEF noted. While the retaliatory tariff remains in place, exports to China/Hong Kong are growing.

Exports to the region were a record 68,657 mt in July, more than tripling from a year ago, while value climbed 173% to a record $152.5 million. The USMEF says China’s hog prices soared to record levels in August, and retail pork and poultry prices are also trending sharply higher due to the African swine fever outbreak.

While there are no additional duties in Japan, tariffs on U.S. pork put the product at a competitive disadvantage to Japan’s other pork suppliers.

July exports were steady with last year at 31,019 mt, while value was up 5% to $133.2 million. USMEF says a recent agreement reached on a trade pact with Japan is supposed to reduce tariffs, but the agreement has not been finalized and a start date is unknown.

Pork exports to South America continue to grow, with exports up 30% from a year ago in July.

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