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January Exports Show Solid Start to 2018 for U.S. Beef, Pork
USAgNet - 03/09/2018

January exports of U.S. beef were significantly higher than the large totals of a year ago while pork exports were steady in volume and increased in value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Beef exports totaled 105,486 metric tons (mt) in January, up 9 percent year-over-year, while export value surged 21 percent to $624.4 million. Exports accounted for 12.4 percent of total beef production in January, up slightly from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported increased from 9.5 percent to 10.1 percent. Beef export value averaged $293.06 per head of fed slaughter, up 14 percent year-over-year.

January pork exports totaled 203,488 mt, steady with last year's strong volume, while export value increased 7 percent to $545.6 million. Pork exports accounted for 24.7 percent of total pork production, down from 26.2 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported declined slightly to 21.5 percent. Pork export value averaged $50.93 per head slaughtered, up 1 percent year-over-year.

For muscle cuts only, beef exports reached 80,495 mt (up 15 percent) valued at $555.7 million (up 23 percent). Pork export volume increased 5 percent to 164,189 mt, while value climbed 9 percent to $454.2 million. Beef variety meat volume fell 5 percent to just under 25,000 mt, but value increased 7 percent to $68.8 million. Pork variety meat exports dropped 16 percent in volume (39,299 mt) but still managed a 2 percent increase in value to $91.5 million.

"January export results were solid overall and were especially strong for muscle cuts," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Despite the decline in variety meat volume, export value continued to increase. This underscores the important contribution variety meats deliver for producers and for everyone in the U.S. supply chain."

U.S. beef continued to gain momentum in the Japanese market, with January exports increasing 7 percent from a year ago in volume (23,968 mt) and 19 percent in value ($148.6 million). This included a 30 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 12,411 mt, valued at $92.4 million (up 38 percent). Frozen exports declined 13 percent in volume (8,141 mt) but increased slightly in value ($33.1 million). Frozen U.S. beef entering Japan is subject to a 50 percent safeguard tariff, which is scheduled to revert back to 38.5 percent on April 1, the beginning of the new Japanese fiscal year. Benefiting from a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, frozen beef from Australia is subject to a duty of 27.2 percent. This rate will decline to 26.9 percent on April 1.

Exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts posted a solid performance in 2017, but overall results were held back by a decline in variety meat demand. That trend reversed in January, as variety meat exports were up 62 percent in volume to 614 mt and jumped 73 percent in value to $687,000. This helped push overall results for U.S. lamb to 740 mt (up 29 percent) valued at $1.5 million (up 6 percent). Variety meat export growth was led by Mexico, Angola and Gabon, while lamb muscle cut exports increased to the Caribbean and Canada.

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