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New Records for U.S. Beef Export Value, Pork Export Volume
USAgNet - 02/08/2018

2017 was a record-breaking year for U.S. red meat exports, with beef export value exceeding $7 billion for only the second time and pork exports easily surpassing the previous year's volume record, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 1.26 million metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from 2016. This was the fourth-largest volume on record and the second-largest of the post-BSE era. Beef export value reached $7.27 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high achieved in 2014 ($7.13 billion).

"This was a remarkable year for beef exports, in our mainstay markets in northern Asia as well as emerging destinations in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "The U.S. beef industry gained significant market share in Japan despite considerable obstacles, and posted a record-breaking performance in South Korea and Taiwan. These markets are especially critical for chilled beef exports, which were up about 25 percent year-over-year. This had a tremendous impact on carcass value."

For December only, beef export value was up 9 percent from a year ago to $672.9 million -- the second-highest of 2017 and the third-highest on record. December volume was down 3 percent from a year ago to 113,269 mt.

Beef exports accounted for 12.9 percent of total production in 2017 and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts only, down from 13.7 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, in 2016. Beef export value averaged $286.38 per head of fed slaughter, up 9 percent from 2016 and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $300.36 average posted in 2014.

Pork exports totaled 2.45 million mt in 2017, breaking the 2016 record by 6 percent. Export value was $6.49 billion -- up 9 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only 2014 ($6.65 billion).

"Heading into 2017, we knew U.S. pork production would be record-large and that the industry would be counting more than ever on export growth to support hog prices and sustain profitability," Halstrom said. "Our international pork customers really stepped up to the plate, and USMEF helped the industry meet their needs through new product development, consumer education and outreach and by creating opportunities for customers to meet with U.S. suppliers. The new volume record for pork is impressive, but it's important to note that export value increased at an even more rapid pace -- which confirms that international demand is robust and that exports deliver a strong return."

For December only, pork export value was up 5 percent from a year ago to $591.1 million. This was the second-highest total of 2017, trailing only the record value achieved in November ($615.8 million). December volume was down 1 percent from a year ago to 219,809 mt.

Pork exports accounted for 26.6 percent of total production in 2017 and 22.3 percent for muscle cuts only, each up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. Pork export value averaged $53.47 per head slaughtered, up 6 percent from 2016.

Japan solidified its position as the leading market for U.S. beef in 2017, with volume climbing 19 percent year-over-year to 307,559 mt and value up 25 percent to $1.89 billion -- new post-BSE records. Chilled exports to Japan expanded even more rapidly, reaching 148,688 mt (up 32 percent) valued at $1.102 billion (up 37 percent) as U.S. beef captured more than half of Japan's imported chilled beef market -- a new high for U.S. market share. Japan accounts for nearly $75 in export value per head of fed slaughter and delivers critical premiums for certain cuts. For example, Japan's imports of U.S. beef tongue averaged $12.13 per head and imports of short plate averaged $26.44.

The U.S. industry is marketing a wide range of beef cuts in Japan and the market holds potential for additional growth. But market access is a concern, with imports of Australian and Mexican beef subject to significantly lower duties and beef from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico all poised to gain further tariff relief through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

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