According to a monthly report of USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), U.S. pork exports increased 22% year-over-year in August to 244,256 tons. Total pork export valued increased 19% to $588.8 million. This could be good news for sales of utility tractors, which are most commonly used in the production of livestock and were among surveyed equipment dealers' best bets for improved sales in 2020.

January to August export volume of pork was up 4% compared to the same period in 2018, reporting 1.8 million tons and an increase in value by 1% to $4.35 billion. U.S. beef exports were slightly below last year’s volume for January to August, reporting 971,716 tons (a 2% decline) and $5.4 billion in value (a 1% decline).     

USMEF also reported that China/Hong Kong was the largest destination for U.S. pork exports, coming in at 70,168 tons this August (more than triple the August 2018 volume) and increasing export value by 160% to $137.6 million. This follows a severe outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in mainland China and surrounding countries, which has already boosted U.S. beef exports to China. USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom commented on what this could mean for U.S. pork exports in the future.

“China’s demand for imported pork has increased steadily over the past few months and the U.S. industry is well-positioned to help fill that need,” says Halstrom. “But the really positive story behind these numbers is that … demand in other markets is proving resilient and continues to grow. This is exactly why the U.S. industry invested in emerging markets over the years, and it is definitely paying dividends.”

Other pork highlights for the January-August period include:

  • Exports to South America climbed 28% above last year’s record pace in volume (116,121 tons) and 30% in value ($264.7 million).
  • Exports to Central America were 16% above last year’s record pace in volume (66,940 tons) and 19% higher in value ($147 million). Honduras and Guatemala are the largest Central American destinations for U.S. pork, and exports trended higher to both markets.
  • Exports to Oceania were up 38% from a year ago to 85,490 tons, while value increased 32% to $217.1 million. Exports to Australia jumped 36% from a year ago to 76,822 tons, valued at $192.5 million (up 31%). Growth to New Zealand was also impressive, with exports up 52% in volume (8,668 tons) and 48% in value ($24.6 million).
  • While January-August exports to South Korea were down 9% from last year’s record pace in volume (160,595 tons) and fell 10% in value ($411.8 million), August exports were up significantly as volume climbed 27% to 15,802 tons and value surged 35% to $42.2 million. In mid-September, South Korea confirmed its first cases of African swine fever (ASF), with 13 outbreaks reported in the northwest corner of the country near the border with North Korea.
  • ASF has also impacted pork production in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam but also recently spreading into the Philippines. While U.S. exports to the ASEAN (Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations) trailed last year’s pace by 10% in volume (38,761 tons) and 19% in value ($81.1 million), the region’s need for imported pork is likely to trend higher in coming months.

For full 2019 January-August pork, beef and lamb export data, click here.