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Beef Exports on Record Pace; Headwinds Weigh on Pork
USAgNet - 02/11/2019

U.S. beef exports continued on a record pace in November while pork exports trended lower year-over-year, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation . Beef exports totaled 112,842 metric tons (mt) in November, up 1 percent from a year ago, while value climbed 6 percent to $709.2 million. For January through November, exports reached 1.24 million mt, up 8 percent year-over-year and 6 percent above the record pace of 2011. At $7.63 billion, beef export value was up 16 percent and has already broken the full-year record set in 2017 ($7.27 billion).

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter is also on a record pace, averaging $322.97 in November (up 5 percent from a year ago) and $320.72 during the first 11 months of 2018 (up 14 percent). Exports accounted for 13.1 percent of total November beef production and 10.9 percent for muscle cuts, both steady with November 2017. For January through November, exports equated to 13.4 percent of total production and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts -- up from 12.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, in 2017. These numbers highlight the strong international demand for U.S. beef as exports are accounting for a larger share of growing U.S. production and are fetching higher prices, with some U.S. cuts trading at record prices in Asia.

November pork exports totaled 206,852 mt, down 8 percent year-over-year, while value fell 12 percent to $538.7 million as retaliatory duties in key markets continue to generate headwinds for U.S. pork. For January through November, exports were steady with 2017's record pace at 2.23 million mt and value was down 1 percent to $5.86 billion.

Trade barriers are also pressuring pork export value on a per-head basis. In November, export value per head slaughtered was $48.80, down 16 percent from November 2017. Through the first 11 months of 2018, per-head export value averaged $51.46, down 3 percent. Exports accounted for 24.5 percent of total November pork production and 22 percent for muscle cuts, down from 27.7 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively, in November 2017. For January through November, exports equated to 25.7 percent of total pork production (down from 26.5 percent in 2017) and 22.4 percent for muscle cuts (up slightly).

"2018 was truly a remarkable year for U.S. beef exports, which shattered previous records in both volume and value and reached new heights in several of our top markets," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "In the first half of the year, pork exports were also on a very positive trajectory but unfortunately U.S. pork has been heavily targeted for retaliation. We remain hopeful that these disputes can be resolved soon, so that U.S. pork can get back on a level playing field with its competitors."

November was another strong month for U.S. beef exports to the key Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, while exports to the ASEAN region also increased sharply.

Driven by a sharp increase in variety meat shipments to Mexico, November exports of U.S. lamb were the largest of 2018 in both volume (1,387 mt, up 167 percent year-over-year) and value ($2.4 million, up 39 percent). Lamb muscle cut exports trended lower in November at 232 mt (down 18 percent) valued at $1.46 million (down 3 percent).

For January through November, lamb exports reached 11,758 mt valued at $21.4 million -- up 77 percent and 21 percent, respectively, from a year ago. While most of this increase was due to strong variety meat demand in Mexico, muscle cut exports posted solid gains in the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and the Philippines.

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