USA, Washington. US pork exports posted new volume and value records in 2019, reaching nearly $7 bn., according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Exports of US beef were below the previous year’s record levels.
Pork exports soared to 282,145 t in December, up 34% year-over-year and surpassing the previous high (set in November 2019) by 9%. Export value was $760 mill., up a remarkable 44% from a year ago and breaking the previous record (also from November 2019) by 7%. These results pushed 2019 exports 10% above the previous year in volume (2.67 mill. t) and 9% higher in value ($6.95 bn.), breaking previous records for both volume (2.45 mill. t in 2017) and value ($6.65 bn. in 2014).
December beef exports totaled 111,315 t, down 1% from a year ago, valued at $682 mill. (down 3%). 2019 exports totaled 1.32 mill. t, 2.5% below the previous year’s record volume. After increasing by more than $1 bn. in 2018, beef export value eased by 3% to $8.1 bn.
Highlights for US pork exports:
- Led by substantial growth in Chile and Peru and an increase in shipments to mainstay market Colombia, exports to South America set new records in both volume (152,125 t, up 12% year-over-year) and value ($382.3 mill., up 16%).
- Strong growth in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica drove pork exports to Central America to new record highs in volume (98,182 t, up 14% from a year ago) and value ($239.5 mill., up 19%).
- In Oceania, a key destination for US hams and other muscle cuts used for further processing, strong demand in both Australia and New Zealand pushed exports 31% above the previous year in volume (116,113 t) and 34% higher in value ($339.2 mill.), setting new records.
- Exports to Canada increased 4% from a year ago in volume (214,703 t, the largest since 2013) and were 5% higher in value ($801.7 mill., the highest since 2014).
- Exports to South Korea slowed from the 2018 records, with volume down 14% to 207,650 t and value falling 12% to $593 mill. But US share of Korea’s imports increased modestly to 36%, as overall import volume also declined from 2018.
Highlights for US beef exports:
- In Mexico, the third largest market for U.S. beef behind Japan and Korea, export value increased 5% from a year ago to $1.1 bn. despite a 1% decline in volume (236,707 t). This was largely due to strong demand for beef variety meat, especially tripe. Variety meat exports to Mexico increased 4% year-over-year in volume (100,645 t) and surged 21% in value to $276.9 mill. This included $111.7 mill. in tripe exports, up 30% from a year ago.
- The largest decline in US beef exports in 2019 was to China/Hong Kong (103,220 t, down 21%, with value down 19% to $830 mill.). Retaliatory duties and other restrictions limited US exports to China, but the Phase One trade agreement includes significant breakthroughs in market access that should allow a much larger share of US beef production to be eligible for China. Although China’s beef demand has recently slowed, its overall beef imports reached a staggering $8.4 bn. in 2019, a 70% increase over the 2018 record.
- Led by strong demand in Indonesia, beef exports to the ASEAN region increased 23% from a year ago in volume (60,790 t) and were 8% higher in value ($295.5 mill.). Exports to Indonesia reached record heights, climbing 67% from a year ago in volume (23,591 t) and 37% higher in value ($85.1 mill.). This included a near doubling of variety meat volume (to 12,688 t) along with substantial growth in muscle cuts.
- Despite a slowdown in December, exports to the Dominican Republic easily surpassed the previous year’s record in both volume (8,034 t, up 18%) and value ($65.8 mill., up 13%).
- Fueled by outstanding demand in Panama, exports to Central America increased 3% from a year ago in volume (15,156 t) and 7% in value ($86 mill.). Exports to Panama surged 33% to 2,278 t valued at $14.7 mill. (up 30%).
- Mexico was one of several markets driving strong demand for US beef variety meat in 2019. Global variety meat exports increased 4% from a year ago in volume (322,529 t) and 9% in value ($972.9 mill.). Exports to Japan, which largely consist of tongues and skirts, totaled 62,948 t, up 19% from a year ago, valued at $387 mill. (up 13%). Prospects for further growth are very strong in Japan, with beef from cattle of all ages now eligible and lower tariff rates under the U.S.-Japan trade agreement (Japan’s tariff rate for US tongues will phase to zero by 2028 and for other variety meat by 2030).
- Egypt, the largest destination for US beef livers, saw a 3% increase in variety meat volume (63,449 t) while export value climbed 15% to $73.7 mill. Beef variety meat exports also posted substantial year-over-year gains in Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Angola, Gabon, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique and Nicaragua.