January exports of U.S. beef were significantly higher than the large totals of a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
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.
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,â€ said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. â€œDespite 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.â€
Asian Markets Continue to Shine for U.S. Beef
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.
Other January highlights for U.S. beef included:
Exports to South Korea, which reached a record $1.2 billion in 2017, increased 13 percent from a year ago to 17,133 mt, while export value soared 34 percent to $122.3 million. This included a 54 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 3,954 mt, valued at $36.9 million, up 63 percent. Through the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the duty on U.S. beef was reduced to 21.3 percent on Jan. 1, about 5 percentage points lower than Australiaâ€™s rate for this year and down significantly from the pre-KORUS rate of 40 percent.
Following large shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017, exports to Hong Kong slowed in January, but still easily exceeded last yearâ€™s totals, increasing 41 percent from a year ago in volume (10,493 mt) and 53 percent in value ($79.8 million). Exports to China, which resumed in June after a 13-year absence, hit a new monthly high of 819 mt in January valued at $7.5 million.
Exports to Taiwan posted impressive gains in January, increasing 17 percent in volume to 4,207 mt. Export value increased 41 percent to $42 million.
Led by solid gains in Indonesia and Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region climbed 22 percent in volume (3,108 mt) and 13 percent in value ($15.9 million).
Strong results in Chile and Colombia fueled beef exports to South America, which increased 90 percent in volume (3,307 mt) and 65 percent in value ($13.9 million).
Exports to Central America jumped 40 percent in volume (1,082 mt) and 32 percent in value ($5.9 million), led by a strong performance in Guatemala and larger variety meat shipments to El Salvador.
Beef exports to Africa were mostly variety meat in 2017, but January produced a large increase in muscle cut exports to Angola and South Africa. As a result, total exports to Africa were up 19 percent in volume (954 mt) and surged 88 percent in value to $1.4 million.