US beef exports in March set a new monthly value record, and pork export value reached the second-highest level on record shepherding first-quarter total red meat exports to a strong showing, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.
The US is exporting a large share of its beef and pork production at higher prices — a clear sign of solid international demand, the USMEF said in a release.
March beef export value was $693.1 million, up 104.9 million pounds, or 17.8%, year-over-year and topping the previous high set in October 2014.
Export volume was 111,994 tonnes, up 6,684 tonnes, or 6.35%, from a year ago. For the first quarter, beef and beef variety meat exports totaled 318,083 tonnes, up from the year-earlier pace of 292,215 tonnes, a gain of 25,858 tonnes, or 8.85%.
Beef and veal exports have been above last year and the 2012-2016 average all year.
Exports accounted for 13.6% of total beef production in March, up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago, the USMEF said. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.1% – up from 9.9% last year.
For January through March, beef exports accounted for 13.2% of total production and 10.7% for muscle cuts, up from 12.4% and 9.8%, respectively, the USMEF said.
Beef export value averaged $332.89 per head of fed slaughter in March, up 23% from a year ago, the USMEF said. For the first quarter, per-head value averaged $315.67, up 18%.
March beef exports to leading market Japan were steady with last year at 28,158 tonnes, while value increased 6% to $177.5 million, the USMEF said. For the first quarter, they were down 3% in volume (72,440 tonnes but still increased 8% in value ($459.5 million).
March pork export volume was almost steady with last year at 227,363 tonnes, compared with 227,955 tonnes, while value increased 23,756 tonnes, or 4.05%, to $610.4 million – trailing only the November 2017 record of $615.8 million.
For the first quarter, volume increased 8,650 tonnes, or 1.38%, year-over-year to 636,297 tonnes from 627,647, while value was up $121.2 million, or 7.66%, to $1.7 billion from $1.582 billion.
March US pork exports accounted for 27.5% of total production, down from 28% a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased slightly to 23.5%, the USMEF said.
First-quarter pork exports followed a similar pattern, accounting for 26.6% of total production, down from 27% a year ago, and 23% for muscle cuts only, up from 22.6%.
March pork export value averaged $56.91 per head slaughtered, up 4% from a year ago, while the January-March average increased 5% to $54.81, the USMEF said.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Out of 2,982 fed cattle presented, 413 sold Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange Video Auction, all for 1- to 9-day delivery, at $122.40 per cwt. There were no sales the previous Wednesday.
Cash trading last week was at $125 to mostly $126 per cwt on a live basis, compared with mostly $124 to $126 last week. Dressed-basis trading was reported at $195, steady to down $3.
The USDA choice cutout Monday was up $0.84 per cwt at $229.14, while select was up $1.71 at $211.20. The choice/select spread narrowed to $17.94 from $18.81 with 79 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday, was $138.10 per cwt, up $0.20. This compares with Monday’s May close of $137.62, down $2.77.