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% from a year ago, valued at $687.1 million — up 11%. For January through September, beef exports were just over 1 million mt, up 9% from a year ago, while value surged 18% to $6.2 billion. For beef muscle cuts only, the year-over-year increases were even more impressive, jumping 13% in volume (777,740 mt) and 20% in value ($5.54 billion).
Exports accounted for 13.7% of total beef production in September and 11.4% for muscle cuts only, up from 12.5% and 10.4%, respectively, a year ago. For the first three quarters of 2018, exports accounted for 13.5% of total production (up from 12.8%) and 11.1% 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% from a year ago.
September pork export volume was down 2% from a year ago to 179,423 mt, while export value fell 7% to $470.2 million. Pork muscle cuts were 2% higher than a year ago at 146,542 mt, but value still declined 3% to $397.6 million. September variety meat exports dropped significantly in both volume (32,881 mt, down 18%) and value ($72.6 million, down 21%). For January through September, combined pork and pork variety meat exports were 1% above last year’s record pace at 1.81 million mt and 2% higher in value at $4.79 billion. For pork muscle cuts only, exports increased 6% from a year ago in volume (1.46 million mt), valued at just under $4 billion (up 3%).
September exports accounted for 24.8% of total pork production, up from 23.6% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 21.8% — up two full percentage points from last September. For January through September, pork exports accounted for 26.1% of total production, down from 26.5% last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22.1 to 22.7%. Export value per head slaughtered was down 1% from a year ago in September ($48.72) and for January through September ($52.46).
"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."