January Pork Exports Strong; Beef Also Up

Following a record-breaking performance in 2019, US pork exports maintained a torrid pace in January, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

January beef exports also were higher year-over-year, the USMEF said.




January pork exports cooled slightly from the volume and value records established in December, but still far exceeded year-ago levels, the USMEF said.  The January export volume of 273,603 tonnes was up 71,768, or 35.6% from 201,835 last year, and export value of $738.738 million was up $244.613 million, or 49.5%, from $494.125 million last year and were the second highest on record.

Export value per head slaughtered was $62.53, up 40% from a year ago, the USMEF said.  Exports accounted for 29.8% of total pork production and 27.4% for muscle cuts only, up substantially from last January’s percentages of 23.6% and 20.3%, respectively.

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong continued on a blistering pace in January, easing somewhat from the record volume reached in December but still increasing 263% from a year ago to 97,002 tonnes and climbing 361% in value to $245.3 million, the USMEF said.  The year-over-year increase was even more astonishing for pork muscle cuts, which were up 814% to 76,281 tonnes, valued at $194.7 million, up 1,297%.

January exports included a significant share of carcasses (boxed primals), which totaled 35,358 tonnes, up from zero last year, the USMEF said.  Exports of bone-in hams and shoulders were 7,750 tonnes, up 569%.

January shipments to Japan, the perennial value leader for US pork exports, were down 4% from a year ago in volume at 31,578 tonnes and 2% lower in value at $132.6 million, the USMEF said.




Beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5% from 107,374 tonnes a year ago and 5% in value to $672.7 million.  This was up 2,608 tonnes, or 2.49%, from 104,766 a year ago and up $30.383 million, or 4.73%, from $642.278 million a year ago.

But beef muscle cut exports were the highest ever for the month of January at 81,342 tonnes, up 4% from a year ago, while muscle cut value increased 5% to $589.2 million, the USMEF said.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $302.93, up 3% from a year ago, the USMEF said.  Exports accounted for 13.1% of total beef production, down slightly from a year ago, and 10.6% for muscle cuts only, steady with January 2019.

The value of US beef exports to Taiwan was record-high for the seventh straight year in 2019, and exports are off to a great start in 2020, the USMEF said.  January exports to Taiwan increased 24% from a year ago to 5,226 tonnes, valued at $43.5 million, up 18%.

The US dominates Taiwan’s chilled beef export market, capturing 75% market share last year and 83% in January 2020, the USMEF said.




Cash cattle traded in the Plains last week at $108 to $110 per cwt on a live basis, down $3 to $4 from the previous week, and at $175 to $176 dressed, down $5 to $6.

The USDA choice cutout Friday was up $2.13 per cwt at $208.14, while select was up $4.10 at $201.98.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $6.16 from $8.13 with 118 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Thursday was $127.91 per cwt, down $3.13 from the previous day.  This compares with Friday’s Mar contract settlement of $113.00, down $5.82.