Despite ongoing trade issues, U.S. beef exports continue nearly on par with last year’s record pace, according to data released this week by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef exports increased 1% year-over-year in July to 117,842 metric tons. Export value of $720.4 million was slightly less than a year ago but still the seventh-highest monthly total on record.
January-July beef exports were down 2% from a year ago in volume (766,607 metric tons), while export value of $4.75 billion was slightly below last year.
Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $308.47 in July, down 7% from a year ago. January-July export value averaged $311.51 per head, down 2%.
South Korea continued to lead the way for growth with July volume 6% more year over year—a new monthly record—of 25,104 metric tons and value up 7% at $181.3 million, also a record. For January-July, export value was $1.1 billion, which was 14% more than the previous year’s record pace.
“The Korean market is a remarkable success story and a blueprint for what U.S. beef can achieve when consumers are not shouldering such a heavy tariff burden," explains Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO.
“With the duty rate now less than half of its pre-FTA level, U.S. beef is enjoyed by more Korean consumers than ever, and in a wider variety of venues. This will also happen in Japan when duty rates come down, but on an even larger scale.”
Last month, the U.S. reached agreement, in principal, on a bilateral trade pact with Japan, the leading value customer for U.S. beef exports.
At the time, Halstrom explained, “This announcement is tremendous news for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and for everyone in the red meat supply chain, because it will level the playing field for U.S. pork and beef in the world's most competitive red meat import market.
Export competitors gained tariff advantage when the U.S. withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), while the other 11 nations involved in TPP ultimately agreed to a new deal.