September beef exports edged higher in volume and jumped substantially in value, while pork export volume was steady with both the August and year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Although lower than the previous month, September beef export volume improved 2 percent from a year ago to 103,552 mt. Export value topped $600 million for the fourth consecutive month at $616.9 million, up 16 percent from a year ago. January-September volume was 926,985 mt, up 9 percent from the first three quarters of 2016, while export value was $5.27 billion - up 16 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above of the record pace established in 2014.
Beef exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total production in September, down one percentage point from a year ago, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 10.2 percent last year to 10.4 percent. For January through September, beef exports accounted 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.2 percent) and 10.1 percent for muscle cuts (steady with last year).
September beef export value averaged $289.14 per head of fed slaughter, up 13 percent from a year ago. January-September export value averaged $277.31 per head, up 10 percent.
Pork exports totaled 183,481 metric tons (mt) in September, nearly identical to both the September 2016 and August 2017 volumes. September export value was $503.8 million, up 3 percent year-over-year. Through the first three quarters of the year, pork exports were 8 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.79 million mt, while export value climbed 10 percent to $4.71 billion.
September exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total pork production and 19.8 percent for muscle cuts only - both down slightly from a year ago. For January through September, these ratios improved about one percentage point from a year ago to 26.5 percent of total production and 22.1 percent for muscle cuts. September export value averaged $48.98 per head slaughtered, up 1 percent from a year ago. Through the first three quarters of the year, per-head export value was $52.79, up 7 percent.
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Strong momentum for U.S. beef continued in most Asian and Western Hemisphere markets in September, though exports faced some new headwinds. Exports to leading market Japan held up well in September despite Japan’s recent duty rate increase (from 38.5 percent to 50 percent) on imports of frozen U.S. beef. September exports of frozen beef to Japan were up 44 percent from a year ago to 10,512 mt, while chilled exports increased 38 percent to 12,663 mt.
For January through September, exports to Japan increased 22 percent in volume (236,536 mt) and 30 percent in value ($1.45 billion). This included a 42 percent increase in chilled beef exports (113,347 mt) valued at $833 million (up 45 percent). Frozen beef was up 15.5 percent to 85,432 mt, valued at $334 million (up 23 percent).
“USMEF is pleased to see solid demand continuing for U.S. beef in Japan, and this is a testament to the strong, well-established relationships with our loyal customers and the success of U.S. beef promotional campaigns in Japan,” Seng said. “But the 11.5 percent duty rate increase needs to be closely monitored to ascertain where market dislocation will occur. We are watching this situation carefully and remain very concerned about the widening gap in duty rates between U.S. beef and Australian beef.”
Through the first three quarters of 2017, market-specific highlights for U.S. beef include:
- Fueled by rapidly growing demand in South Korea’s retail sector, export volume to Korea increased 7 percent from a year ago to 131,774 mt. Export value ($856.9 million, up 20 percent) is on pace to easily break last year’s record of $1.06 billion. These totals include an 85 percent increase in chilled beef exports (31,648 mt), valued at $283 million (up 92 percent), as U.S. beef continues to gain market share in Korea.