U.S. exports of pork, beef and lamb were up sharply in April over year-earlier levels, with pork volumes topping the record set in November 2016 and beef value setting a record for the month.
Pork exports were up 13 percent in both volume and value for an additional 27,000 metric tons and $66.6 million compared with April 2017, U.S. Meat Export Federation reported.
Those exports accounted for nearly 30 percent of U.S. pork production and added an average value of $58.45 per head of U.S. hog slaughter.
But pork trade could face headwinds due to new Mexican tariffs on U.S. pork in response to U.S. tariffs on imported Mexican steel and aluminum.
Mexico continues to be the pacesetter for pork exports with shipments reaching 79,019 metric tons worth $134.1 million in April. Those exports were up a whopping 34 percent in volume and 28 percent in value for an increase of 20,191 metric tons and $29,348 over year-earlier levels.
Through the first four months of the year, pork exports to Mexico ran 7 percent above last year’s record volume pace at 282,675 metric tons, with value up 6 percent to $505.4 million.
But maintaining that pace will be challenging, given Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on imports of U.S. pork, USMEF stated.
“The outstanding April performance for pork exports to Mexico really underscores the importance of this market to the U.S. industry,” Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO, said in the latest export report.
While USMEF will continue to promote U.S. pork in Mexico and help U.S. suppliers retain business, the U.S. industry is going to have to fend off competitors who suddenly have a significant tariff-rate advantage, he said.
Mexico has hit U.S. pork with a 10 percent tariff that will increase to 20 percent after July 5.
With China imposing an additional 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. pork in early April in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, pork producers are already hurting, National Pork Producers Council said in a statement this week.
Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. pork, representing nearly 25 percent of all U.S. pork shipments last year.
“A 20 percent tariff eliminates our ability to compete effectively in Mexico,” Jim Heimerl, NPPC president, said.
“This is devastating to my family and pork-producing families across the United States,” he said.
In the beef arena, exports in April were up 11 percent in volume and 23 percent in value over year earlier levels. They accounted for 14.1 percent of U.S. production and added an average value of $328.47 per head of U.S. cattle slaughter.
Japan remained the top market with shipments up 9 percent in volume to 25,650 metric tons and value up 14 percent to $166.6 million.
Lamb exports also posted impressive gains over last year’s low levels, with shipments up 97 percent and value up 48 percent over April 2017. Mexico was the top market, importing 872 metric tons worth $1.04 million.