USA, Washington. April exports of US beef and pork were lower than a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.
Beef exports totaled 105,241 t in April, down 5% year-over-year, though export value was down only slightly at $674.2 mill. For January through April, exports were 4% below last year’s record pace in volume (412,547 t) and 1% lower in value ($2.58 bn.).
On a per-head basis, beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $305.61 (down 7% from April 2018). The January-April average was $308.34 per head, down 3% from a year ago. April exports accounted for 12.5% of total US beef production and 10.2% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.1% and 11.3%, respectively, a year ago. For January through April, these ratios were 12.7% and 10.2% (down from 13.4% and 10.8%).
Pork exports totaled 216,757 t in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $535.2 mill.(down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year’s pace in volume (817,025 t) and were down 12% in value to just over $2 bn.
Pork export value averaged $50.58 per head slaughtered in April, down 13% from a year ago but the highest in 10 months. For January through April, export value averaged $47.25 per head, down 15% from the same period last year. April exports accounted for 26.6% of total US pork production and 23.3% for muscle cuts only – down from 29.9% and 25.8%, respectively, in April 2018. January-April exports accounted for 24.9% of total pork production (down from 27.4%) and 21.8% for muscle cuts (down from 23.7%).
South Korea remains the export growth leader for US beef, with April volume up 18% to 22,584 t. April value surged 22% to $164.3 mill., surpassing Japan as the month’s leading value market. January-April exports to Korea were 11% ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (78,757 t) and climbed 15% higher in value ($578.5 mill.). US share of Korea’s total beef imports climbed to 47.5%, up a full percentage point from last year. US share of Korea’s chilled beef imports reached 60%.
Taiwan is also coming off a record year for US beef exports and posted a strong April at 5,118 t (up 15% from a year ago) valued at $47.9 mill. (up 14%). Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 18,605 t (up 6%) valued at $165.6 mill. (down 2%).
In Japan, where all of US beef’s major competitors have gained tariff relief in 2019, April exports were down 6% from a year ago in both volume (24,149 t) and value ($156.8 mill.). Export volume through April was steady with last year’s pace at 98,296 t while value increased 2% to $637.2 mill. US market share in Japan is still more than 41%, but this is down from nearly 45% in the first four months of 2017. For chilled beef, US share has slipped two percentage points to 47.4%. In April, Japan’s imports from Mexico more than tripled year-over-year and imports also increased from Canada (up 52%), New Zealand (up 41%) and Australia (up 9%) as competitors of US beef benefited from lower tariff rates.
On May 20, the 20% retaliatory duty on most US pork entering Mexico was removed, as the US, Mexico and Canada reached an agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs. This was obviously too late to boost April pork exports to Mexico, which sank 30% from a year ago in volume (54,971 t) and 29% in value to $94.5 mill. For January through April, exports to Mexico were down 18% in volume (232,391 t) and 29% in value ($356.5 mill.).
US pork also faces a significant disadvantage in China, where retaliatory duties remain in effect and competitors are positioning to fill China’s looming African swine fever-driven pork shortfall. January-April exports to China/Hong Kong were 16% below last year’s pace in volume (128,200 t) and down 32% in value ($242 mill.).
Leading value market Japan has not imposed any new tariffs on US pork but its main competitors (European, Canadian and Mexican pork) have gained tariff relief in 2019. January-April exports of US pork to Japan were down 7% from a year ago in volume (123,166 t) and fell 9% in value ($493.3 mill.), as US share of Japan’s total imports fell from 36% last year to 32%. The sharpest decline was in Japan’s imports of US ground seasoned pork, which were down nearly $40 mill.