WASHINGTON – Strong pork export results continued in August, while beef remained lower than the usual level according to the latest report by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports increased 22 percent with last year’s pace and finished at 221,586 metric tons (mt), while pork value was up 19 percent to $588.8 million.

Through August, pork exports went up 4 percent compared to the 2018 pace and ended at 1.7 million mt. Export values also increased by 1 percent to $4.35 billion.

Pork exports accounted for 27.1 percent of total August pork production and 23.7 percent for muscle cuts only, which is up from 21.9 and 19.2 percent respectively. Through August, the percentage of total pork production exported was lower year-over-year at 26.4 percent and 23 percent for muscle cuts, which is an increase from 2018.

Pork export value averaged $54.18 per head slaughtered in August, which is up 22 percent from last year. Through the first eight months, per-head average was down 2 percent to $51.70.

Meanwhile, US beef exports declined compared to 2018 with 114,119 mt, a 4 percent decline from last year’s volume. Export value decreased by 8 percent to $690.3 million.

During the last eight months, beef exports were slightly below the record pace going down 2 percent in volume (881,526 mt) and 1 percent in value ($5.44 billion).

Beef exports made up for 14 percent of the total beef production in August, which is down slightly from 2018 (14.3 percent). The number for muscle cuts only was 12.2 percent which is also down from 11.3 percent a year ago. For the first eight months of 2019, beef exports accounted for 14.2 percent of total production (down from 14.6 percent) and 11.6 percent for muscle cuts (down from 12.1 percent). August export value averaged $298.94 per head slaughtered, down 7 percent from 2018, January-August average was down 3 percent to $309.85.

As the trade dispute continues between US and China, the country is still the largest exporter for pork in August at 63,656 mt. This is more than tripled the August 2018 volume. Value increased 160 percent to $137.6 million. In the first eight months of this year, exports are up 38 percent in volume (356,322 mt) and 17 percent in value ($717.9 million).

Pork in Mexico continues to bounce back after the removal of the 20 percent retaliatory duty on US pork in late May. Numbers continue to increase but still are behind the record numbers posted in 2017. August pork exports to Mexico remained down 1 percent from 2018 in volume to 61,365 mt but value increased 18 percent to $121.1 million. Following a slow start to the year, Mexican export numbers from January-August, were down 11 percent from 2018 in both volume (473,309 mt) and in value ($821.8 million).

"China's demand for imported pork has increased steadily over the past few months and the US industry is well-positioned to help fill that need," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "But the really positive story behind these numbers is that even as US exports to China/Hong Kong have surged and exports to Mexico rebounded after the removal of retaliatory duties, demand in other markets is proving resilient and continues to grow. This is exactly why the US industry invested in emerging markets over the years, and it is definitely paying dividends."

Japan numbers were once again down, but US exports should be going up the rest of the year with a new trade agreement between the two countries. However, in August the numbers were still down with August Volume decreasing 19 percent to 28,240 mt, while value fell 18 percent to $120.1 million compared to 2018. For beef, August exports went down 15 percent from 2018 to 28,646 mt and were down 22 percent in value to $164.3 million.

The third-largest international market for US beef, Mexico, was slightly lower than a year ago in volume at 156,528 mt and down 1 percent. Value increased 5 percent to $729.5 million.

"The US beef industry is extremely excited at the prospect of lower tariffs in Japan, as 38.5 percent is the highest rate assessed in any major market," Halstrom said. "As we've seen in Korea, where the tariff rate was once 40 percent but has been reduced by more than half, lower tariffs make US beef even more affordable for a wider range of customers. While the agreement still needs parliamentary approval in Japan, importers are already enthused and preparing for long-awaited tariff relief."

Lamb August exports went down 12 percent to 1,193 mt, while value decreased 8 percent to $1.84 million. For the first eight months of the year, exports did increase 32 percent above 2018 pace at 10,626 mt, while value increased 13 percent to $17.5 million.