U.S. beef exports remained very strong in September while pork exports continued to be impacted by retaliatory duties in China and Mexico, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports cooled from the record results posted in August, but were still significantly higher year-over-year. Pork muscle cut exports improved over last September’s volume, but were offset by sharply lower shipments of pork variety meat.
September beef exports totaled 110,160 metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from a year ago, valued at $687.1 million – up 11 percent. For January through September, beef exports were just over 1 million mt, up 9 percent from a year ago, while value surged 18 percent to $6.2 billion. For beef muscle cuts only, the year-over-year increases were even more impressive, jumping 13 percent in volume (777,740 mt) and 20 percent in value ($5.54 billion).
Exports accounted for 13.7 percent of total beef production in September and 11.4 percent for muscle cuts only, up from 12.5 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively, a year ago. For the first three quarters of 2018, exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total production (up from 12.8 percent) and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts – up one full percentage point from last year. Beef export value equated to $334.63 per head of fed slaughter in September and $320.85 for January through September, each up 16 percent from a year ago.
"With a full quarter still to be reported, beef export value records are already being surpassed in some markets and global value is on track for $8 billion by year’s end," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Pork exports have also held up relatively well, but unfortunately the obstacles U.S. pork faces in China and Mexico are putting a lot of pressure on export value."
New value record in Korea tops beef export highlights
South Korea has been the growth pacesetter for U.S. beef exports in 2018, and September was no exception. Exports to Korea were up 22 percent from a year ago in volume (19,116 mt) and were 29 percent higher in value ($143.1 million). January-September exports reached 180,495 mt, up 37 percent from a year ago, while export value soared 51 percent to $1.29 billion, already breaking last year’s full-year value record. These results included a 28 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 40,372 mt, valued at $391 million (up 38 percent). U.S. share of Korea’s total beef imports has increased sharply this year, from 44.7 to 48.7 percent, as U.S. beef underpins Korea’s growing beef consumption.
September beef exports to leading market Japan were up 4 percent from a year ago in both volume (28,086 mt) and value ($172.3 million). For the first three quarters of 2018, exports to Japan were up 7 percent from a year ago in volume (252,871 mt) while value increased 10 percent to $1.59 billion. Chilled beef exports to Japan were down 1 percent to 111,908 mt, but value still climbed 7 percent to $895 million. On a value basis, the U.S. is the top supplier to Japan with 46.8 percent of imports, up slightly from the first three quarters of 2017. But on a volume basis, U.S. beef accounted for just under 42 percent of total imports, down from 43 percent in the same period last year and trailing Australia’s 48.6 percent share. With the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) set to enter into force Dec. 30, the tariff advantage enjoyed by Australian beef will be extended to all of U.S. beef’s major competitors in Japan with another duty reduction on April 1, the start of Japan’s fiscal year.
For January through September, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:
Beef exports to Taiwan were up 32 percent from a year ago in volume (43,539 mt), while value reached $403.8 million – up 36 percent and just short of last year’s annual record of $409.7 million. Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 29 percent in volume (17,523 mt) and 36 percent in value ($221 million), as the United States captured 75 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market – the highest market share of any Asian destination.
Exports to Mexico were up 1 percent from a year ago in volume (177,906 mt) and 8 percent higher in value ($783.1 million). With a strong fourth quarter, exports to Mexico should top $1 billion for the first time since 2015.
After slowing in the summer months, beef exports to China/Hong Kong rebounded in September (10,076 mt valued at $82 million). This pushed January-September results 6 percent higher than a year ago in volume (89,660 mt) and 28 percent higher in value ($720.8 million). This included exports to China of 5,114 mt valued at $44.2 million.
A strong performance in the Philippines and solid growth in Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 13 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (33,924 mt) and 25 percent higher in value ($186.6 million).
Strong September results pushed exports to South Africa 8 percent higher year-over-year in volume (11,508 mt), while value jumped 28 percent to $11.7 million. Exports to Angola also increased significantly in both volume (2,643 mt, up 15 percent) and value ($3.6 million, up 45 percent). Exports to Africa (which do not include Egypt) were down 8 percent in volume (16,880 mt) but still increased 8 percent in value ($18.9 million).