January Beef Exports Remain Strong, Pork Sags

Coming off a record-breaking performance in 2021, US beef exports remained red hot in January, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

Pork exports continued trending lower in January, despite another outstanding month for exports to leading market Mexico, the USMEF said in a release.

 

BEEF EXPORTS UP 13%

 

Beef exports totaled 119,066 tonnes, up 14,019, or 13.3%, from 105,047 tonnes a year ago, while value soared $373.0 million, or 57.1%, to $1.026 billion from $652.994 million.

This was the third-highest value total on record, trailing only August and November of last year, and export value per head of fed slaughter set a new record, topping $500 for the first time, the USMEF said.

Beef exports to South Korea reached a record $2.38 billion in 2021, the USMEF said, following through in January 2022 with a year-over-year gain of 39% to 29,578 tonnes, while export value nearly doubled to a record $316.5 million (up 99%).

While US beef’s pandemic-era growth in South Korea was driven largely by soaring retail demand, the foodservice outlook also brightened as health officials recently loosened social distancing requirements and allowed longer operating hours for restaurants, the USMEF said.

South Korea’s tariff rate on US beef, which was 40% before the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement entered into force, dropped to 10.7% this year and will reach zero at the end of 2026, the USMEF said.

Demand for US beef in China/Hong Kong remained strong in January, climbing 69% from a year ago to 19,772 tonnes, while export value more than doubled ($194.2 million, up 115%), the USMEF said.

January beef exports to Japan were up 4% from a year ago at 22,936 tonnes, while value jumped 32% to $181.7 million, the USMEF said.  Exports were bolstered by a strong performance for beef variety meats, which increased 20% in volume (4,367 tonnes) and 69% in value ($41.8 million).

 

PORK EXPORTS DOWN 16%

 

January pork exports totaled 208,808 tonnes, down 39,848, or 16.0%, from 248,656 tonnes a year ago, while export value fell $87.154 million, or 13.6%, to $555.632 million from $642.786 million, the USMEF said.

Last year Mexico reclaimed its position as the leading destination for US pork exports, taking nearly 875,000 tonnes valued at $1.68 billion, the USMEF said.  This performance continued in January, with exports climbing 36% from a year ago to 87,027 tonnes, valued at $136.6 million (up 24%).

With the tight US labor situation, Mexico was an especially attractive market for bone-in hams for further processing, the USMEF said.  US pork also continues to make impressive strides in Mexico’s retail and foodservice sectors.

 

CATTLE, BEEF RECAP

 

The USDA reported formula and contract base prices for live FOB steers and heifers this week ranged from $138.08 to $139.09 per cwt, compared with last week’s range of $140.92 to $145.00.  FOB dressed steers and heifers went for $218.66 to $219.05 per cwt, versus $221.90 to $225.95.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was up $0.80 per cwt at $255.51, while select was up $0.83 at $249.94.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $5.57 from $5.60 with 62 loads of fabricated product and 21 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA reported that basis bids for corn from feeders in the Southern Plains were u0 $0.05 at $1.30 to $1.40 a bushel over the May futures and for southwest Kansas were down $0.15 at $0.00 over May, which settled at $7.48 1/4, down $0.14 1/4.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $152.31 per cwt down $0.25.  This compares with Monday’s Mar contract settlement of $155.95 per cwt, up $2.67.