April exports of US beef and pork were lower than a year ago, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.
“US beef is holding its own in Japan, but the April numbers are telling,” cautioned USMEF President Dan Halstrom in a USMEF release. “With the April 1 rate cut, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Mexican beef are now subject to a 26.6% duty while the rate for US beef remains at 38.5%. It is absolutely essential that the US secures an agreement that will level this playing field.”
“Lifting of Mexico’s retaliatory duties was the most welcome news the US pork industry has received in a long time,” Halstrom said. “Now let’s hope the duty-free access US pork has enjoyed in Mexico since late May isn’t short-lived.”
BEEF EXPORTS DOWN
Beef exports totaled 105,241 tonnes in April, down 5% year-over-year from 111,213 tonnes, though export value was down only slightly at $674.2 million, compared with $676.701 million.
For January through April, exports were 4% below last year’s record pace of 429,286 tonnes at 412,547 tonnes and 1% lower in value at $2.576 billion, compared with $2.594 billion.
On a per-head basis, beef export value 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 US 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%.
South Korea remains the export growth leader for US beef, with April volume up 18% to 22,584 tonnes. 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 at 78,757 tonnes and climbed 15% in value to $578.5 million.
PORK EXPORTS DECLINE
Pork exports totaled 216,757 tonnes in April, down 6% from 230,049 tonnes a year ago, valued at $535.239 million, down 8% from $584,065 million.
January-April exports also were 6% below last year’s pace in volume at 817,025 tonnes, compared with 866,346 tonnes and were down 12% in value to $2.006 billion from $2.287 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 US 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% a year ago and 21.8% for muscle cuts, down from 23.7%.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trading was reported in the Corn Belt Wednesday at $114 per cwt on a live basis, up $1 from the bulk of last week’s action, and at $185 to $186 dressed, up $1 to $2.
The USDA choice cutout Wednesday was down $0.24 per cwt at $222.15, while select was down $1.52 at $206.73. The choice/select spread widened to $15.42 from $14.14 with 101 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
No contract delivery notices were served for the Jun live cattle futures contract on Wednesday.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $133.29 per cwt, up $0.34 from the previous day. This compares with Wednesday’s Aug contract settlement of $137.80, down $0.32.