For May, the USDA Economic Research Service compilation of U.S. exports (carcass weight basis for the red meats and on a ready to cook basis for poultry), was a mixed bag of results compared to a year earlier. Year-over-year, beef export tonnage surged 21%, while pork crept up less than 1% (up 0.3%). Broiler exports continued to disappoint, declining by 4%, while turkey tonnage fell by 7%.
U.S. red meat sales to major foreign countries also were mixed. For beef, year-over-year increases were posted in sales to South Korea (up 54%), Taiwan (rising 34%), Canada (increasing 30%), and Mexico (up 4%). Those posting declines were Vietnam (-36%) and Hong Kong (-2%). In order of size, the largest markets were Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and then Canada. Of the seven largest pork markets, three had year-over-year increases – South Korea (up 39%). Hong Kong (increasing 34%), and Mexico (rising 5%). The largest market continues to be Mexico, followed by Japan, South Korea, and Canada.
Broiler exports for May were above 2017’s to Canada (rising 22%), South Korea (up 12%), and Angola (increasing 6%). Mexico, the largest foreign market, represented 21% of total U.S. broiler export tonnage and posted a drop of 11%. Mexico purchased 56% of the U.S. turkey exports in May and purchased 11% less than a year earlier.
Of course, looking ahead, the huge dark cloud overhanging exports is the escalating pattern of tariffs and retaliation. As June and July data become available, we may have a clearer picture of what the second half of 2018 and 2019 will look like for U.S. meat and poultry exports.