April US Beef, Pork Exports Strong

April proved to be a solid month for US beef and pork exports despite COVID-19-related interruptions in production and declining purchasing power of some key trading partners, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

Beef export values were below last April’s large totals but still topped $600 million, the USMEF said.  Pork export values remained well above a year ago but slowed from the record first-quarter pace.

“Considering all the challenges the US red meat industry faced in April, export results were encouraging,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom, in a Federation release.  Exporters lost several days of slaughter and processing, and shipments to some Latin American markets declined from slumping currencies and stay-at-home orders.

 

BEEF EXPORTS DOWN

 

April beef exports, at 98,613 tonnes, were down 6,628 tonnes, or 6.30%, from 105,241 a year ago, with value falling $73.349 million, or 10.9%, to $600.880 million from $674.229 million.

Beef exports grew in Japan, where US beef benefited from reduced tariffs under the US-Japan Trade Agreement, and trended higher to China following late-March implementation of the US-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, the USMEF said.

For January through April, beef exports totaled 433,316 tonnes, up 20,769, or 5.03%, from 412,547 a year ago, valued at $2.657 billion, up $80.523 million, or 3.13%, from $2.576 billion.

With lower April slaughter numbers, beef export value per head of fed slaughter climbed to a record $363.35, up 19% from April 2019, the USMEF said.  For the first four months of the year, per-head export value increased 5% to $326.47.

April beef exports accounted for 15.9% of total production and 13.5% for beef muscle cuts, up from 13.5% and 11.1%, respectively, a year ago, the USMEF said.  Through April, exports accounted for 14.4% of total beef production and 11.9% for muscle cuts, up from 13.8% and 11.2%, respectively.

 

PORK EXPORTS GAIN

 

April pork export volume reached 264,048 tonnes, up 47,291, or 21.8%, from 216,757 a year ago but the lowest since November 2019’s 259,812.

April pork export value was $682.823 million, up $147.584 million, or 27.6%, from $535.239 million a year ago but the lowest since October 2019’s $592.043 million.  Through the first four months of 2020, pork exports remained on a record pace at 1.1 million tonnes, up 35% from a year ago, with value up 45% to $2.91 billion.

With production down from March’s record levels, pork export value per head slaughtered jumped to a record $72.55 in April, up 43% from a year ago, the USMEF said.  The January-April per-head average was $66.36, up 40%.

April pork exports accounted for 36.2% of total pork production and 32.2% for pork muscle cuts, each up nearly 10 percentage points from a year ago, the USMEF said.  Through April, exports accounted for 32.4% of total pork production and 29.3% for muscle cuts, up from 24.9% and 21.8%, respectively.

 

CATTLE, BEEF RECAP

 

Fed cattle trading was reported last week at $109 to $118 per cwt on a live basis, down $2 to $3 from the previous week’s range.  Dressed-basis trading was seen at $176 to $187 per cwt, down $2 to $3.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $6.90 per cwt at $254.58, while select was off $15.30 at $231.12.  The choice/select spread widened to $23.46 from $15.06 with 186 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

No deliveries were tendered for delivery against the Aug live cattle contract Monday.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $129.07 per cwt, up $1.16.  This compares with Monday’s Aug contract settlement of $133.07, down $1.10.