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Beef and Pork Exports Below 2018; Lamb Still Trending Higher
USAgNet - 06/10/2019

April exports of U.S. beef and pork were lower than a year ago while U.S. lamb exports continued their upward trend, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports totaled 105,241 metric tons (mt) in April, down 5% year-over-year, though export value was down only slightly at $674.2 million. For January through April, exports were 4% below last year's record pace in volume (412,547 mt) and 1% lower in value ($2.58 billion).

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 U.S. 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 mt in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $535.2 million (down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year's pace in volume (817,025 mt) and were down 12% in value to just over $2 billion.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. beef, with April volume up 18% to 22,584 mt. April value surged 22% to $164.3 million, 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 mt) and climbed 15% higher in value ($578.5 million). U.S. share of Korea's total beef imports climbed to 47.5%, up a full percentage point from last year. U.S. share of Korea's chilled beef imports reached 60%.

Taiwan is also coming off a record year for U.S. beef exports and posted a strong April at 5,118 mt (up 15% from a year ago) valued at $47.9 million (up 14%). Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 18,605 mt (up 6%) valued at $165.6 million (down 2%).

In Japan, where all of U.S. beef's major competitors have gained tariff relief in 2019, April exports were down 6% from a year ago in both volume (24,149 mt) and value ($156.8 million). Export volume through April was steady with last year's pace at 98,296 mt while value increased 2% to $637.2 million. U.S. 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, U.S. 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 U.S. beef benefited from lower tariff rates.

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