US January exports of beef and pork were slightly below last year’s volumes while export values posted mixed results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.
The USMEF said beef exports slipped 1% to 104,766 tonnes from a year earlier, but total value still increased 3% to $642.3 million.
Export value per head of fed slaughter pulled back from 2018, averaging $284.86, down 3%. January exports accounted for 12.2% of total beef production and 9.7% for muscle cuts only, down from 12.4% and 10.1%, respectively, in January 2018.
January pork exports also were down 1% from a year ago at 201,835 tonnes, with values dropping 9% to $494.1 million. Export value averaged $44.75 per head slaughtered, down 12% from last year. Exports accounted for 23.6% of total January pork production, down from 24.7% a year ago. For muscle cuts only the ratio was 20.3%, down from 21.5%.
JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, SET STRONG PACE FOR BEEF
January beef exports to leading market Japan increased 8% from a year ago to 25,925 tonnes, valued at $167 million, up 12%. Variety meat exports to Japan (mainly tongues) were especially strong, soaring 36% in volume (4,645 tonnes) and value ($31.4 million).
January was the first full month in which competitors of US beef received tariff relief in Japan under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with the import duty rate dropping from 38.5% to 27.5% on Dec. 30. This gap widened April 1, when the rate dropped to 26.6%.
Beef variety meat exports totaled 26,630 in January, up 7% from a year ago, valued at $81.8 million, up 19%, fueled by strong performances in Japan, the ASEAN region and Africa.
SMALLER MARKETS STEP UP DEMAND FOR US PORK
Retaliatory duties continued to pressure US pork exports to Mexico in January, with volume down 9% from a year ago to 66,293 tonnes. Export value absorbed an even harsher blow, dropping 28% to $96.1 million.
While the US still is Mexico’s main pork supplier, Canada’s January exports to Mexico were up 26% to 11,500 tonnes, and the EU increased 91% to 305 tonnes.
Exports to China/Hong Kong also felt the sting of China’s retaliatory duties, dropping 16% from a year ago in volume (26,744 tonnes) and 32% in value ($53.2 million).
While Japan’s import duties on US pork were unchanged, CPTPP countries received tariff relief at the end of 2018 and saw another rate decrease April 1, and January pork exports to Japan were down 6% from a year ago in volume (32,910 tonnes) and 8% in value ($135.2 million).
Pork variety meat exports climbed 5% from a year earlier to 41,143 tonnes, led by increases in Mexico, Japan, Central and South America and Taiwan. However, value still was down 11% to $81 million because exports to China, the leading market for US pork variety meat, remain subject to China’s 50% retaliatory duties.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trading last week was reported at $124 per cwt on a live basis, down $1 to $2 from the previous week. Dressed-basis sales ranged from $200 to $206 per cwt but were mostly $204, down $2 to $3.
The USDA choice cutout Monday was up $1.74 per cwt at $228.67, while select was up $0.60 at $220.88. The choice/select spread widened to $7.79 from $6.65 with 86 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
There were no tenders Monday for delivery against the Apr futures contract.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday, was $143.30 per cwt, down $0.79. This compares with Monday’s Apr contract settlement of $146.72, up $0.57.