Beef and pork exports remain strong, especially to Mexico, China, South Korea and Taiwan. The real numbers to benchmark what could be our highs and potential for continued strong demand from Asia and Mexico.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation releases its export sales of beef and pork a month after they are completed. Recent releases for June, as well as the first half of the year show strong sales, regardless of fears for the second half.
On May 20, the 20-percent retaliatory duty on most United States pork exports to Mexico was removed as the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached an agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs. Entering Mexico duty-free for the first time in nearly a year, June exports to Mexico were the largest since January, while value climbed 13-percent to $119 million — the highest since April 2018.
Japan told a different story, as other nations who signed the Pacific Partnership.
U.S. beef faces a significant tariff rate disadvantage in leading market Japan, where June exports totaled 29,794 metric tons, down four-percent year-over-year, while value was down seven-percent, to $179 million. In the first six months, exports to Japan were one-percent below last year’s pace in both volume and value.
Japan’s imports of Australian beef have also slowed this year, but first-half imports from Canada, New Zealand and Mexico were up 83-percent, 37-percent and 28-percent, respectively, offering a glimpse of upside opportunities in the market when tariff rates are lowered.
Despite retaliatory duties remaining in place, June also brought an encouraging rise in pork exports to China, which were the largest in more than three-years, at 41,704 mt. This pushed first-half exports to China 23-percent ahead of last year in volume and three-percent higher in value.
For the China/Hong Kong region, first-half exports were up four-percent to 224,009 mt, but value declined 16-percent to $427.8 million.
The European Union remains the primary pork supplier to China/Hong Kong. Through May, EU exports to the region were 859,030 mt, up 27-percent year-over-year, valued at $1.57 billion. China/Hong Kong has accounted for 52-percent of EU export volume in 2019, compared to 18-percent of U.S. exports.