Pork Exports Hit New Highs; Beef Lags

US pork exports last year posted new volume and value records, reaching nearly $7 billion, while beef exports came in below 2018’s record levels, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.




December pork and pork variety meat exports soared to 282,145 tonnes, up 72,365, or 34.5%, from 209,780 tonnes a year earlier and surpassing the previous monthly high of 259,812 tonnes set in November by 22,333 tonnes, or 8.60%, the USMEF said.

December export value was $759.983 million, up $232.587 million, or 44.1%, from $527.396 million a year ago and breaking the previous record of $712.735 million, also from November, by $47.248 million, or 6.63%, the USMEF said.

Those results pushed 2019 exports to 2.672 million tonnes, 234,897, or 9.64% above 2.437 million in 2018, the USMEF said.  Total 2019 value of $6.952 billion was $559.653 million, or 8.76%, higher than the 2018 total of $6.392 billion.

The 2019 volume and value broke previous records of 2.45 million tonnes in 2017 and $6.65 billion in 2014, the USMEF said.

Pork export value per head slaughtered was $66.70 in December, nearly one-third more than a year ago and the highest since 2014, the USMEF said.  For 2019, per-head value averaged $53.51, up 4% from 2018.

The percentage of pork production exported also set new records in December, accounting for 32.1% of total pork production and 29.3% for muscle cuts only, up substantially from a year ago (26.1% and 23.6%, respectively), the USMEF said.

In 2019, exports accounted for 26.9% of total pork production, up from 25.7% and the highest since 2012, the USMEF said.  For muscle cuts only, the ratio was 23.6%, up from 22.5% in 2018.

Following a record performance in November, China/Hong Kong’s US pork demand climbed in December to 110,876 tonnes – more than quadruple a year earlier – while value was nearly six times higher at $274.9 million, the USMEF said.




December beef exports totaled 111,315 tonnes, down 1,462, or 1.30%, from 112,777 a year ago, valued at $681.999 million, down $18.228 million, or 2.60%, from $700.227 million a year ago, the USMEF said.

2019 beef exports totaled 1.319 million tonnes, 33,598, or 2.48%, below the 2018 record volume of 1.353 million, the USMEF said.  After increasing by more than $1 billion in 2018 to $8.332 billion, export value eased by $242.566 million, or 2.91%, to $8.090 billion in 2019.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $321.21 in December, down 9% from a year ago, the USMEF said.  The 2019 average was $309.75, down 4%.

December exports accounted for 14.3% of total beef production and 11.6% for muscle cuts only, down from 15.5% and 12.6%, respectively, a year ago, the USMEF said.  2019 exports accounted for 14.1% of total beef production and 11.4% for muscle cuts, down from the previous year’s record-high percentages of 14.6% and 12.1%, respectively.




Cash cattle trading was reported in the western Corn Belt Wednesday at $192 to $193 per cwt on a dressed basis, down $2 from last week.  No live-basis trades were reported but took place last week at $122 to $122.50 per cwt, down $1 to $4.50.

The USDA choice cutout Thursday was up $0.21 per cwt at $210.793, while select was off $1.98 at $205.96.  The choice/select spread widened to $4.97 from $2.78 with 76 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $141.53 per cwt, up $0.10.  This compares with Thursday’s Mar contract settlement of $135.90, up $0.22.