USA, Denver. Strong June results capped a huge first half of 2018 for U.S. beef exports, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). June pork exports were lower than a year ago for the second consecutive month, but first-half volume and value remained ahead of last year’s pace.
Beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in June of 90,745 t, up 15% from a year ago. When adding variety meat, total beef export volume was 115,718 t, up 6%, valued at $718.4 mill. – up 19% year-over-year and only slightly below the record total ($722.1 mill.) reached in May. First-half exports set a record pace in both volume and value as international customers bought a larger share of U.S. beef production at higher prices, indicating strong demand. Export volume was up 9% from a year ago to 662,875 t while export value was just over $4 bn., up 21%. In previous years, export value never topped the $4 bn. mark before August.
June exports accounted for 13.4% of total beef production, up from 12.8% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.3%, up from just under 10% last year. First-half exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production and 11% for muscle cuts – up from 12.8% and 10%, respectively, last year. Beef export value averaged $313.56 per head of fed slaughter in June, up 19% from a year ago. The first-half average was $316.94 per head, up 18%.
After setting a new record in April, pork export volume has trended lower the past two months, mainly due to lower exports to the China/Hong Kong region. June exports totaled 191,303 t, down 4.5% from a year ago, despite a slight increase in muscle cut exports (to 153,083 t). June export value was $510.4 mill., down 3%. For the first half of 2018, pork export volume was still 2% ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.27 mill. t, while value increased 5% to $3.36 bn. For pork muscle cuts only, first-half exports were up 6% year-over-year in both volume (1.02 mill. t) and value ($2.78 mill.).
On the beginning of April the import duty on U.S. pork and pork variety meats entering China increased from 12% to 37%. In July the rate increased to 62%. Mexico imposed a 10% retaliatory duty on U.S. pork muscle cuts in June and increased the rate to 20% in July.
June pork exports accounted for 26.4% of total production, down from 27.1% a year ago, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22.2% to 22.8%. First-half exports equaled 27.3% of total pork production (down from 27.8% a year ago) and 23.6% for muscle cuts (up from 23.1%). Pork export value averaged $53.13 per head slaughtered in June, down slightly from a year ago.
Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to climb in June, totaling 31,147 t (up 13% from a year ago) valued at $193.1 mill. (up 11%). First-half exports to Japan were up 6% from a year ago in volume at 159,354 t while value increased 12% to $1.02 bn. This included a 4% increase in chilled beef to 73,968 t, valued at $590.1 mill. (up 15%).
June exports of U.S. lamb were the largest of 2018 in both volume (1,016 t, up 58% from a year ago) and value ($2.2 mill., up 26%), pushing first-half exports 46% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (5,471 t) and 17% higher in value ($11.3 mill.). Stronger variety meat demand in Mexico accounted for much of this growth, but muscle cut exports trended higher to the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan. Exports should receive an additional boost in the second half of the year from Japan, which reopened to U.S. lamb in July.