US December Beef Exports Dip; Pork Up

US December beef and variety meat exports declined counter-seasonally while pork exports were up, according to the USDA Economic Research Service and Foreign Agriculture Service statistics.

Japan remained the leading value market for US beef in 2015, yet exports declined about 15% year-over-year in volume (204,927 tonnes) and 19% in value ($1.28 billion, the lowest since 2012), said the US Meat Export Federation, which compiled the numbers.  Japan imported less beef from all suppliers in 2015, but the US lost market share to Australia, in part because of the 10 percentage point tariff advantage for Australian beef under its economic partnership agreement with Japan.

While the weak peso affected demand for US beef in Mexico, exports still topped the $1 billion mark for the second straight year ($1.09 billion, down about 6%), the USMEF said.  Mexico reclaimed its position as the leading destination for beef variety meat exports, which increased about 8% in volume (110,085 tonnes) and 9% in value ($290.3 million).

That helped offset a decline in variety meat exports to Egypt, which fell 15% in volume to 103,276 tonnes but still achieved a 3% increase in value to $148.6 million.

The USMEF said total beef and variety meat exports in December amounted to 94,586 tonnes, down 5,684, or 5.67%, from 100,270 in December 2014.  These exports were worth $507.3 million, down $135.9 million, or 21.1%, from $643.2 million a year earlier.

Variety meats are those edible products like the heart and tongue that have little value in the US but find greater demand in the export market.  Export values for many of these products declined sharply over the last year.

For 2015, US beef and veal exports totaled 1.068 million tonnes, down 129,138, or 10.8%, from 1.197 million in 2014, the USMEF said.  These exports were valued at $6.303 billion, down $833.516 million, or 11.7%, from $7.135 billion a year earlier.

Beef exports accounted for about 13% of total 2015 production and 10% for muscle cuts only – each down one percentage point from a year earlier, the USMEF said.  Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $277.87, down 7% from the previous year’s record but still up 13% from 2013.




While December US beef exports slid, US pork exports made small gains as several US pork plants regained export eligibility to China and production rose.

US pork plus variety meat exports logged in at 188,410 tonnes in December, a gain of 4,912, or 2.68%, from 183,498 in the year-ago month.  These exports were valued at $469.0 million, up $72.3 million, or 13.4%, from $541.3 million a year earlier.

For the year, the data show total US pork exports at 2.132 million tonnes, down 46,337, or 2.13%, from 2.178 million in 2014.  These exports were valued at $5.575 billion, down $1.099 million, or 16.5%, from $6.674 billion a year earlier.

Pork exports accounted for about 24% of total 2015 production and 21% for muscle cuts only – down from 26.5% and 22%, respectively, in 2014, the USMEF said.  Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.31, down 23% from 2014.




Cash sales came in Thursday at $133 per cwt on a live basis in Texas and Kansas, $3 lower than last week.  In Nebraska, live sales were posted at $128 to $132, with dressed-basis sales at $206, generally $4 lower.

The USDA reported mixed wholesale beef prices Thursday, with choice down $1.17 per cwt at $217.02, and select up $0.65 at $214.27.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $2.75 from $4.57, and there were 99 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $158.79 per cwt, down $0.70.  This compares with Mar’s Thursday settlement of $150.25, down $0.97.