U.S. beef exports set new records in August with export value topping $750 million for the first time, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). August pork exports were fairly steady with last year’s volume, but retaliatory duties in key markets continued to pressure pork export value.
August beef exports totaled 119,850 metric tons (mt), up 7 percent from a year ago, valued at $751.7 million – up 11 percent year-over-year and easily exceeding the previous record of $722.1 million reached in May 2018. For January through August, beef exports totaled 899,300 mt, up 9 percent from a year ago, while value climbed 18 percent to $5.51 billion.
For the third consecutive month, beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in August at 95,181 mt (up 9 percent from a year ago), valued at $679.6 million (up 13 percent). Through August, muscle cut exports were 14 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (692,234 mt) and 21 percent higher in value ($4.93 billion).
August exports accounted for 13.2 percent of total beef production, up from 12.5 percent a year ago. For beef muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.2 percent, up from 10.4 percent last year. For January through August, exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total beef production and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $320.92 per head of fed slaughter in August, up 11 percent from a year ago. The January-August average was $318.66 per head, up 16 percent.
“U.S. beef exports continue to achieve tremendous growth, not only in our mainstay Asian markets but in the Western Hemisphere as well,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF is excited about the recent market access developments achieved by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and USDA, with favorable terms being preserved in Mexico, Canada and South Korea and trade talks getting underway with Japan. A trade agreement with Japan would bring opportunities for even greater expansion as U.S. beef becomes more affordable for Japanese consumers and is back on a level playing field with Australian beef.”
U.S. beef also currently faces retaliatory duties in two markets: China and Canada. China’s duty rate increased from 12 to 37 percent in July, with the higher rate applying to all eligible products. Canada’s 10 percent duty, which also took effect in July, applies to cooked/prepared beef products. All other U.S. beef still enters Canada duty-free.
Beef exports to Korea already near last year’s value record
August beef exports to South Korea were up 42 percent from a year ago in volume (24,482 mt) and set another new value record at $176.4 million (up 60 percent). This pushed January-August exports to 161,379 mt, up 39 percent from a year ago, while export value reached $1.15 billion – up 54 percent and just short of the 2017 full-year record of $1.22 billion. These results included a 30 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 35,683 mt, valued at $343.7 million (up 41 percent). Through August, U.S. beef accounted for 58 percent of Korea’s chilled imports. Under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) that took effect in 2012, Korea’s duty rate on imports of U.S. beef has declined from 40 to 21.3 percent and will be eliminated by 2026. These terms are preserved in the revised KORUS agreement signed Sept. 24.
Beef exports to leading market Japan climbed 8 percent from a year ago in August to 33,548 mt, including a post-BSE record for muscle cuts (28,863 mt). August export value was $209.3 million, up 5 percent from a year ago and the highest since 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 7 percent from a year ago in volume at 224,785 mt, while value increased 11 percent to $1.42 billion. This included a slight increase in chilled beef to 100,952 mt, valued at $807.2 million (up 9 percent). U.S. beef accounted for nearly 50 percent of Japan’s chilled imports through August.
For January through August, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:
- Exports to Mexico were up 1 percent from a year ago in volume (158,496 mt) and were 8 percent higher in value ($693.9 million). Mexico is the leading destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which have trended lower in recent months to fall 8 percent below last year’s pace at 64,642 mt. Variety meat value to Mexico remained steady with last year at $148.7 million.
- While beef shipments to China/Hong Kong slowed in the summer months, January-August exports remained 6 percent higher than a year ago in volume (79,584 mt) and 30 percent higher in value ($638.8 million). Exports to China, which reopened to U.S. beef in June of last year, were 4,580 mt valued at $39.8 million.
- Beef exports to Taiwan soared 36 percent above last year’s pace in volume (38,923 mt) and 40 percent higher in value ($359.9 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 32 percent in volume (15,676 mt) and 41 percent in value ($197.1 million), as the United States captured 74 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market – the highest share of any Asian destination.
- Strong growth in the Philippines pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 11 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (29,261 mt) and 23 percent higher in value ($160.7 million).
- Led by sharply higher exports to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador, export volume to Central America increased 26 percent from a year ago to 9,519 mt, while value climbed 22 percent to $51.6 million.