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Trade stats show record U.S. pork exports

Trade stats show record U.S. pork exports

Beef hogs and products split screen

The recently released December trade statistics finalized 2019, giving analysts a look at the export trends for the year, which saw pork set records.

“Pork exports were record large at 6.3 billion pounds (carcass weight) for 2019, exceeding the prior year’s record by 7.6%, or 444.9 million pounds,” the Livestock Marketing Information Center said. “Beef exports totaled 3 billion pounds, down 4.1% from the prior year. Broiler meat exports were 7.1 billion pounds, up marginally by 0.6% from last year.”

The U.S. pork industry sent more than half of its total 2019 exports to its three top destinations. China rapidly grew as a market, especially in the fourth quarter.

“Mexico remained the top destination for U.S. pork exports with almost 1.6 billion pounds shipped, down 11.7% from 2018,” the center said. “Shipments to Japan were 1.1 billion pounds, down 5.7%, making it the number two destination. China emerged as the number three market at just over 1 billion pounds, more than three times the amount shipped in 2018. Of the total shipments to China, 46.7%, or 472.8 million pounds, were shipped in the fourth quarter.”

“The strong pork exports were much needed considering pork production was record large at 27.6 billion pounds for 2019, a 5% increase over 2018. Nearly 22.9% of the pork produced in 2019 was exported, the highest since 2012,” the Livestock Marketing Information Center said.

Japan was the top destination for U.S. beef exports in 2019, with South Korea close behind. China remains a small part of the picture, but saw a big increase.

“Beef 2019 shipments to China were a record at 32.1 million pounds, a 45.9% increase from last year, but China only accounted for 1.1% of total U.S. beef exports in 2019,” the center said.

The annual cattle inventory report showed an end to national beef herd expansion.

“The Jan. 1 Cattle Inventory report showed the U.S. beef cow herd has stopped expanding,” the Livestock Marketing Information Center said. “All cattle and calves were down 0.4% from last year, but one of the more notable changes was the change to beef cow inventory, down 1.2%.”

Despite the national decline, Missouri’s beef cow numbers increased by about 1%. Iowa and Illinois saw slight declines in their beef cow inventories. Kansas lost the most beef cows, down 96,000 head. Wisconsin gained the most, increasing its beef cow herd by 7%.”

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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