Beef Pork split screen with meat products

Meat exports to China are starting to grow somewhat significantly, according to an analysis by the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

Some growth is also happening in Vietnam, but increasing outbreaks of African swine fever could spur even greater export gains there as well.

“Vietnam still remains a rather small player, but given the toll ASF has taken on their meat supply as well, it’s a market that bears watching for the next couple of years, in addition to the Chinese market,” the LMIC said.

Trade data released by the USDA Aug. 2 shows a good deal of upside because of the ASF epidemic, and the LMIC said this could be “the turning point to seeing the long-awaited projections come to fruition.”

Beef exports to China in June were up 73% from a year ago, while the first half of 2019 saw a jump of 540,000 pounds of beef exports over 2018, representing a 4.9% increase.

Pork exports have also seen substantial growth. Through June 30, the volume of pork exports into China was up 27.7%.

The LMIC said this was driven by second quarter gains.

“First quarter exports to Mainland China were down 17.9 million pounds on a carcass weight, but second quarter purchases rose 76.7 million pounds over the prior year,” the center said. “March through June have shown steadily increasing volumes of U.S. pork. June was up 190%, which was followed by May up 95%.”

According to the LMIC, these figures do not include sales of variety meats and other products.

While China continues to greatly restrict U.S. poultry imports due to avian influenza concerns, there has been uptick in exports to Vietnam. The LMIC said exports of chicken and turkey have increased between 400,000 and 500,000 pounds over the first half of the year.

“It’s still unknown what the true total magnitude of ASF impacts are for the U.S. sectors of beef, pork and poultry, but June data provided a strong mid-year finish and overall notes very positive growth trend in both of these countries,” the LMIC said.

“Expectations are that these markets will continue to expand this year and could see unprecedented export growth next year.”

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