US Red Meat Exports Dip In February

US red meat exports in February fell below last year’s levels, according to USDA/Economic Research Service and Foreign Agriculture Service data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

Ongoing trade disputes were blamed for pork’s headwinds, but USMEF CEO Dan Halstrom said in a USMEF release that US/Japan trade talks were something to be encouraged about for beef in the future.




February pork export volume of 186,745 tonnes was down 18,701 tonnes, or 9.10%, from 205,446 tonnes a year ago, while export value dropped $91.257 million, or 16.7%, to $455.907 million from $547.164 — the lowest monthly value total since February 2016.

For January through February, pork exports totaled 388,580 tonnes, down 20,354 tonnes, or 4.97%, below last year’s 408,934 tonnes.  January-February export value, at $950.032 million, was down $142.786 million, or 13.1%, from $1.093 billion a year earlier.

Pork export value averaged $45.12 per head slaughtered in February, the USMEF said, up slightly from January but 21% lower year-over-year.  The January-February average was $44.93, down 16%.

Exports accounted for about 24% of total February pork production and 21% for muscle cuts only, down from 27.8% and 24%, respectively, from a year ago, the USMEF said.  For January-February, the ratio of total production exported was 23.8%, down from 26.1% a year ago, and 20.6% for muscle cuts only, down from 22.7%.

Retaliatory duties continued to pressure US pork exports to Mexico, with volume through February down 13% from a year ago to 119,430 tonnes and export value dropping 32% to $171.3 million. The US still is Mexico’s primary pork supplier, but Canada, Chile and the EU all gained market share in 2019.

And demand for imported pork may now be on the upswing in China/Hong Kong because of African swine fever as buyers prepare for a looming pork shortage, the USMEF said.




February beef export volume declined 5,708 tonnes, or 5.67%, year-over-year to 94,885 tonnes from 100,593 tonnes, while value was down $18.188 million, or 3.03%, to $581.600 million from, $599.788 million.

January-February, beef exports, at 199.651 million tonnes, were 6.428 million, or 3.12%, below last year’s record pace of 206.-79 million tonnes.  But they were steady in value at $1.224 billion.

The volume decline was credited mainly to lower shipments to Hong Kong and Canada, since shipments to most other major beef markets have trended higher in 2019, the USMEF said.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $309.39 in February, down 4% from a year ago, while the January-February average was down 3% to $296.19, the USMEF said.  February exports accounted for 12.8% of total beef production and 10.1% for muscle cuts only, down from 13.6% and 10.8%, respectively, a year ago.

For January-February those ratios were 12.5% and 9.9%, each down 0.5 percentage point from the first two months of 2018, the USMEF said.




Cash cattle trading last week was reported in the Plains at $126 per cwt up to $128, steady to up $2 from the previous week.  Dressed-basis trade was reported at $207 to $208, up $3.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was up $0.83 per cwt at $234.48, while select was up $2.15 at $222.64.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $11.84 from $13.16 with 56 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

There were no tenders Monday for deliveries against the Apr futures contract.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday, was $145.97 per cwt, down $0.14.  This compares with Monday’s May contract settlement of $150.80, down $0.72.