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Strong April for Red Meat Exports, Including New Pork Record
USAgNet - 06/08/2018

April exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were sharply higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports set a new volume record, fueled by tremendous demand in Mexico, while beef exports posted the best-ever results for the month of April.

April pork export volume was 230,049 metric tons (mt), up 13 percent from a year ago and topping the previous high set in November 2016. April export value was $584.1 million, also up 13 percent. For January through April, pork export volume was 4 percent ahead of last year's record pace at 866,346 mt, while value increased 9 percent to $2.29 billion. (For pork muscle cuts, excluding variety meat, April was also a record volume month at 184,487 mt, up 18 percent from a year ago. Muscle cut export value was $480.6 million, up 14 percent.)

Exports accounted for nearly 30 percent of total pork production in April, up from 28.4 percent a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported also increased significantly (25.8 percent, up from 23.5 percent). Through April, the percentage of total production exported was fairly steady with last year at 27.4 percent, while muscle cuts jumped from 22.8 percent to 23.5 percent.

April pork export value averaged $58.45 per head slaughtered, up 6 percent from a year ago, while the January-April average increased 5 percent to $55.69.

Beef export volume was 111,213 mt in April, up 11 percent year-over-year. Export value was $676.7 million, up 23 percent and the fourth-highest on record. Through the first four months of 2018, exports were up 10 percent in volume to 429,286 mt. Export value was $2.59 billion, 20 percent above last year's record pace.

Exports accounted for 14.1 percent of total beef production in April, up from 13.6 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.3 percent, up from 10.6 percent. For January through April, exports accounted for 13.4 percent of total production and 10.8 percent for muscle cuts, each up about half a percentage point from last year.

Beef export value averaged $328.46 per head of fed slaughter in April, up 16 percent from a year ago. Through April, per-head export value averaged $318.91, up 17 percent.

Even with growth in red meat production, both pork and beef exports have accounted for a larger share and contributed more dollars per head, indicating strong international demand.

Mexico was again the pacesetter for pork exports in April, with volume reaching 79,019 mt -- up 34 percent from a year ago and the second-largest on record. Export value to Mexico was $134.1 million, up 28 percent. Through the first four months of 2018, exports to Mexico were 7 percent above last year's record volume pace at 282,675 mt, with value up 6 percent to $505.4 million.

Maintaining this pace will be challenging, however, with Mexico announcing retaliatory tariffs on imports of most U.S. pork products effective June 5. The tariff rate on chilled and frozen pork muscle cuts is 10 percent until July 5, when it is set to increase to 20 percent.

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