Beef Pork with meat 4 panel

Pork exports continued to strengthen during August. Data from the USDA indicates pork exports grew by 22% from a year ago, with export value increasing 19%. According to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation, overall numbers from January through August are up 4% from a year ago.

Export values per head were $54.18, up 22% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 27.1% of U.S. production.

Beef exports were down 4% from a year ago, while export values were down 8%. January-August beef exports were down 2% in volume and 1% in value from a year ago.

Export value per head averaged just under $299 in August, down 7% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 14% of U.S. production in August, according to the USMEF.

Emerging markets continue to build pork export numbers, coming at a time when more pork is being exported to China and Mexico. Despite retaliatory tariffs, exports to China/Hong Kong tripled in August from year-ago numbers, while export value climbed 160%.

Exports to Mexico have rebounded some after retaliatory tariffs were removed, but still trail record figures posted in 2017.

“China’s demand for imported pork has increased steadily over the past few months and the U.S. industry is well-positioned to help fill that need,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a news release.

“But the really positive story behind these numbers is that even as U.S. exports to China/Hong Kong have surged and exports to Mexico rebounded after the removal of retaliatory duties, demand in other markets is proving resilient and continues to grow. This is exactly why the U.S. industry invested in emerging markets over the years, and it is definitely paying dividends.”

The recent trade agreement with Japan should further bolster pork demand. Exports to Japan were down 19% from August 2018 (compared to 13.3% for the European Union and Canada), with Japan’s imports through August falling by 28% — nearly $60 million — compared to last year.

The USMEF says pork exports continue to see growth in Colombia, Chile and other South American countries. Exports to South America were up 28% from a year ago in August, while exports to Central America were up 16%. USMEF says Guatemala and Honduras are the top destinations for U.S. pork in Central America.

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