Tag Archives: USMEF

April exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were sharply higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports set a new volume record, fueled by tremendous demand in Mexico, while beef exports posted the best-ever results for the month of April.

April pork export volume was 230,049 metric tons (mt), up 13 percent from a year ago and topping the previous high set in November 2016. April export value was $584.1 million, also up 13 percent. For January through April, pork export volume was 4 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 866,346 mt, while value increased 9 percent to $2.29 billion. (For pork muscle cuts, excluding variety meat, April was also a record volume month at 184,487 mt, up 18 percent from a year ago. Muscle cut export value was $480.6 million, up 14 percent.)

Exports accounted for nearly 30 percent of total pork production in April, up from 28.4 percent a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported also increased significantly (25.8 percent, up from 23.5 percent). Through April, the percentage of total production exported was fairly steady with last year at 27.4 percent, while muscle cuts jumped from 22.8 percent to 23.5 percent.

April pork export value averaged $58.45 per head slaughtered, up 6 percent from a year ago, while the January-April average increased 5 percent to $55.69.

Beef export volume was 111,213 mt in April, up 11 percent year-over-year. Export value was $676.7 million, up 23 percent and the fourth-highest on record. Through the first four months of 2018, exports were up 10 percent in volume to 429,286 mt. Export value was $2.59 billion, 20 percent above last year’s record pace.

Exports accounted for 14.1 percent of total beef production in April, up from 13.6 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 11.3 percent, up from 10.6 percent. For January through April, exports accounted for 13.4 percent of total production and 10.8 percent for muscle cuts, each up about half a percentage point from last year.

Beef export value averaged $328.46 per head of fed slaughter in April, up 16 percent from a year ago. Through April, per-head export value averaged $318.91, up 17 percent.

Even with growth in red meat production, both pork and beef exports have accounted for a larger share and contributed more dollars per head, indicating strong international demand.

Huge month for pork to Mexico; exports to Korea continued to surge

Mexico was again the pacesetter for pork exports in April, with volume reaching 79,019 mt – up 34 percent from a year ago and the second-largest on record. Export value to Mexico was $134.1 million, up 28 percent. Through the first four months of 2018, exports to Mexico were 7 percent above last year’s record volume pace at 282,675 mt, with value up 6 percent to $505.4 million.

Maintaining this pace will be challenging, however, with Mexico announcing retaliatory tariffs on imports of most U.S. pork products effective June 5. The tariff rate on chilled and frozen pork muscle cuts is 10 percent until July 5, when it is set to increase to 20 percent.

“The outstanding April performance for pork exports to Mexico really underscores the importance of this market to the U.S. industry and how it has been such a reliable trading partner for hams, picnics and other pork cuts,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF will continue to emphasize the quality and consistency of U.S. pork to red meat customers in Mexico and make every effort to help U.S. suppliers retain their business. But make no mistake about it, the U.S. industry is going to have to fend off competitors who suddenly have a significant tariff rate advantage and see a clear opening into the Mexican market.”

Pork exports to South Korea continued to build momentum in April, with volume (25,370 mt, up 74 percent) and value ($74.1 million, up 81 percent) increasing significantly from a year ago. Through April, exports to Korea are on a record pace, climbing 44 percent in volume to 94,888 mt, valued at $276.1 million (up 55 percent). Strong growth in consumer demand and duty-free access under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) have fueled a rapidly expanding presence for U.S. pork in Korea.

While pork exports to the China/Hong Kong region were below year-ago levels in April, shipments remained relatively strong despite the additional 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork that took effect April 2. It is likely, however, that the trade impact will show up more dramatically in May export data and in coming months. The tariff increase essentially tripled China’s standard rate on frozen pork imports, taking it from 12 percent to 37 percent (the increase does not apply to Hong Kong, which still charges zero duty). April exports to China/Hong Kong were 41,567 mt, down 14 percent from a year ago, but slipped only slightly in value to $95.9 million. For January through April, exports to China/Hong Kong were 15 percent below last year’s pace in volume (153,248 mt) but steady in value at $356.6 million.

“It is encouraging to see that pork volumes to China/Hong Kong held up fairly well in April, but the tariff disadvantage is still having a negative impact on the U.S. industry and has pressured prices for key export items,” Halstrom noted. “It’s another situation in which our competitors are capitalizing on the extra cost associated with importing U.S. pork.”

For January through April, other highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • Exports to leading value market Japan were 1 percent below last year’s pace in volume (132,534 mt) but increased 1 percent in value ($544.8 million). This included a 5 percent decrease in chilled pork volume (68,532 mt), valued at $330 million (down 1 percent).
  • Strong growth in Colombia pushed pork exports to South America up 23 percent from a year ago in volume (39,520 mt) and 24 percent in value ($96.7 million).
  • Led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala and sharply higher shipments to Panama, exports to Central America climbed 23 percent from a year ago in volume (26,459 mt) and 27 percent in value ($63.3 million).
  • Pork exports achieved solid growth in the Philippines and more than doubled from a year ago to Vietnam, as exports to the ASEAN region increased 20 percent in volume (15,435 mt) and 31 percent in value ($43.8 million).

Asian markets and Mexico highlight strong April for beef exports

Japan maintained its position as the leading volume and value market for U.S. beef, with April exports totaling 25,650 mt (up 9 percent from a year ago) valued at $166.6 million (up 16 percent). Through April, exports to Japan were steady with last year’s volume at 98,090 mt while value increased 10 percent to $626.1 million. This included a 4 percent increase in chilled beef to 47,322 mt, valued at $375 million (up 17 percent). Frozen shipments have regained momentum now that the 50 percent safeguard duty rate has expired. But with a 38.5 percent rate in place for both chilled and frozen beef, the U.S. remains at a large disadvantage compared to its top competitor, Australia.

U.S. beef continues to build tremendous momentum in South Korea, where April exports were up 62 percent from a year ago in volume (19,185 mt) and 72 percent in value ($134.8 million). For January through April, exports to Korea climbed 31 percent to 71,094 mt, valued at $501 million (up 45 percent). Chilled exports totaled 15,480 mt (up 29 percent) valued at $148 million (up 40 percent). In contrast to Japan, U.S. beef has a slight tariff advantage versus Australia, as KORUS was implemented earlier than the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

“The enthusiasm for U.S. beef in these markets may be at the highest level I’ve ever seen,” Halstrom said. “In nearly every segment of the retail and restaurant sectors, U.S. beef is attracting new customers with a wider range of cuts and menu items. It’s an exciting trend that’s not just limited to Japan and Korea, with U.S. beef’s popularity also strengthening in other Asian markets and in the Western Hemisphere.”

For January through April, other highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • In Mexico, exports were 5 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (78,435 mt) and 16 percent higher in value ($342.4 million). Demand was especially strong in April, as exports totaled 21,396 mt (up 22 percent and the largest since August), while value increased 33 percent to $92.1 million.
  • Exports to China/Hong Kong increased 23 percent in volume (46,043 mt) and surged 51 percent in value to $352.4 million. China still accounts for a small portion of these exports, as shipments to China were 2,299 mt valued at $21.3 million. China reopened to U.S. beef in June of last year. While U.S. beef is not yet subject to retaliatory duties in China, it remains on the proposed retaliation list with a possible additional tariff of 25 percent.
  • Taiwan continues to display a growing appetite for U.S. beef, especially for chilled cuts. Exports to Taiwan were 30 percent above last year’s pace in volume (17,500 mt) and 42 percent higher in value ($168.7 million). Chilled exports were up 43 percent in volume (7,605 mt) and value ($96 million), as U.S. beef captured 74 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
  • Steady growth in the Philippines and a tripling of exports to Indonesia pushed exports to the ASEAN region 35 percent above last year’s pace in volume (14,865 mt) and 37 percent higher in value ($82 million).
  • Exports to South America were up 14 percent in volume (8,971 mt) and 28 percent in value ($43.5 million), with the main destinations being Chile, Peru and Colombia. Leading market Chile was up 20 percent in volume (4,137 mt) and 14 percent in value ($22.5 million), though shipments slowed in March and April following a strong start to the year.

Solid April for lamb exports as 2018 rebound continues

April exports of U.S. lamb were well above last year’s low totals in both volume (973 mt, up 97 percent) and value ($1.9 million, up 48 percent). Through the first four months of 2018, exports climbed 39 percent in volume (3,457 mt) and 16 percent in value ($7.3 million). Growth was driven by stronger variety meat demand in Mexico and larger muscle cut shipments to the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Canada. Gabon and Angola also show promise as potential growth destinations for lamb variety meat.

Complete April export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

Monthly charts for U.S. pork and beef exports are also available online.

If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or call 303-226-7309.


  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.

The 2018 World Meat Congress concluded Friday with sessions focused on consumer trends and education, as well as an in-depth look at cutting-edge technologies reshaping meat production around the world. The 22nd World Meat Congress was held in Dallas May 31 and June 1. Hosted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), the event drew about 700 participants from more than 40 countries.

Friday’s keynote speaker was best-selling author Jeff Fromm, whose books include Marketing to Millennials, Millennials with Kids and Marketing to Gen Z. Fromm is also a partner at Barkley, a company that assists with establishment and enhancement of brands and helps businesses identify emerging consumer trends.

Fromm told the audience that food has become more than just a category of products consumers buy and enjoy – it is also a means of expression.

“How many of you used to have fashion as the thing that drove you, as a young person, to sort of express yourself?” he asked. “Today’s modern consumer expresses themselves through food. Discretionary purchases on food have increased at a dramatic rate, at a time when discretionary purchases on fashion haven’t. So they are trading ‘category: fashion’ for ‘category: food’ as a way to express themselves.”

Fromm said farmers and ranchers, and those in meat processing and merchandising, absolutely must better connect with consumers by sharing details of the story behind their products.

“Today’s consumer is a ‘pro-sumer,’ which means they are going to co-create their story and it’s about ‘Brand Me,’” Fromm explained. “And the reality is, that consumer has a lot of expectations. They expect to have a seat at the table. And if you’ve heard in the past that it’s just about being transparent, our research suggests that’s going to get you a ‘C’ on your report card. In ‘Tomorrowland,’ you’re going to have to offer proof that the story you are living is real – which is a step beyond transparency.”

Following Fromm’s address, World Meat Congress attendees learned about new tools to improve food safety, the value of gene editing to the world’s food production systems and the impact of blockchain technology in a panel discussion titled, “On the Cutting Edge: What’s New in the Red Meat Supply Chain?”

Dr. Gary Smith, a visiting professor in the animal science departments at Texas A&M University and Colorado State University, moderated the panel of scientists deeply involved in cutting-edge research into technologies that are quickly changing how meat and other foods are being produced, managed and delivered.

The panel featured Gary Rodrigue, blockchain food trust leader for the IBM Corporation; Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert family professor in food safety at Cornell University; and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist for animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California-Davis.

Blockchain technology is a tool that presents tremendous opportunities for innovation and more trustworthy global business transactions. While the term “blockchain” is often confused with cryptocurrency, Rodrigue explained that the blockchain technology he was focusing on is quite different, and that it “is going to change every aspect of your business – it’s going to change how supply chains are managed.”

Wiedmann, whose academic program is to develop and communicate the scientific knowledge needed to prevent and control foodborne and zoonotic diseases caused by bacteria, explained the value of genome sequencing and other scientific tools used to monitor and trace incidents such as outbreaks of listeria or salmonella. He also shared other aspects of his research, which is focused on developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis, ecology, evolution and transmission of bacterial foodborne diseases.

Van Eenennaam, whose program at UC-Davis focuses on research and education around the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems, explained the value of gene editing. For example, research is underway to utilize gene editing to prevent such diseases as African swine fever in hogs and tuberculosis in cattle.

“What better way to approach dealing with disease than through genetic improvement?” she noted.

In a session titled, “Societal Norms and Implications for the Industry,” panelists focused on the fact that consumers are growing more informed and demanding about the specific food production practices and attributes of the products they buy. They noted that the meat industry and other food industry sectors must strive to find ways of meeting these growing expectations while also delivering affordable, sustainable food supplies.

Moderated by Mary Ann Binnie, manager of nutrition and industry relations for the Canadian Pork Council, the panel featured Lisa Watson, social responsibility officer at the Innovative Center for U.S. Dairy, Justin Ransom, Ph.D., senior director of sustainable food strategy for Tyson Foods, and Roxi Beck, consumer engagement director at the Center for Food Integrity. Beck is also vice president of Look East, a public relations agency focused on growing trust in products, processes, people and brands in the food and agriculture industry.

IMS Secretary General Hsin Huang assembled a panel of industry experts to illustrate the critical issues on which IMS advocates for the global meat industry. IMS engages with international and intergovernmental organizations to promote a fact-based and science-based approach to public policy and establishment of international standards.

The panel featured Dr. Bernard Vallat, president of the French Federation of Charcutiers, Caterers and Meat Processors (FICT), who discussed key issues related to animal welfare, antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance. Jurgen Preugschas, director of the Western Hog Exchange, focused on sustainable livestock production practices, and Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., R.D., executive director for human nutrition research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association offered her thoughts on dietary guidelines and the importance of educating key audiences about the nutritional value of red meat and its role in a balanced diet.

The day’s final panel focused on the consumer of tomorrow, and what the red meat industry must do to properly identify and address the desires and expectations of future generations. Moderated by Mick Sloyan, pork strategy director with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board of the United Kingdom, the panel featured Melissa Brewer, director of communications for Certified Angus Beef ®, who explained the history behind the company’s brand and how it thrives on authenticity and a proven track record of meeting customers’ quality expectations. Michael Uetz, managing principal of Midan Marketing, a full-service marketing firm dedicated to serving meat industry clients, focused on demographic trends and explained that meat consumers are segmented – ranging from “voracious carnivores” to “wavering budgeteers” to “selective foodies.” Pol Moragas, deputy secretary general of Spain’s Business Federation of Meats and Meat Industries (FECIC), discussed industry research that underscores the importance of developing and maintaining consumer loyalty – an ever more daunting challenge as he foresees the future.

“From my very humble viewpoint, the consumer of the future is hyper-influenceable and not at all loyal,” he cautioned.

Speaking for IMS, Huang saw the 22nd World Meat Congress as a valuable, insightful experience for all participants.

“We are coming from different production systems and different animal species, but we all are facing similar challenges,” he said. “So this meeting was a great opportunity to come together to network and to address these challenges. USMEF did tremendous work in pulling together a great lineup of speakers, and Dallas was a wonderful location for the event.”

At the closing ceremony, IMS President Guillaume Roué and USMEF CEO Emeritus Philip Seng thanked attendees for their participation and support and introduced pork industry leader Pedro Tabaras, president of Granjas Carroll de Mexico. In an IMS tradition, Seng “passed the IMS flag” to Tabaras, who invited the audience to take part in the next World Meat Congress, which will be held in Cancun in 2020.

Thursday the Mexican Ministry of Economy announced that in retaliation for new tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports, Mexico intends to impose tariffs on some U.S. pork cuts and pork products. Full details – such as the tariff rate and the exact products to which the tariffs could apply – are not entirely clear at this time. USMEF will provide more information as these details become available. In 2017, Mexico was the largest volume market for U.S. pork exports at more than 800,000 metric tons, valued at $1.51 billion.

Statement by U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom

It will be very unfortunate if U.S. pork exports to Mexico, which deliver tremendous benefits to both the U.S. supply chain and to Mexican consumers, importers, processors, retailers and restaurants, no longer enjoy duty-free access to this critical market. It is especially frustrating to see U.S. pork caught up in a dispute that has nothing whatsoever to do with pork trade. If these tariffs are implemented, they will negatively impact millions of consumers and thousands of people in the meat and livestock industries on both sides of the border. USMEF is hopeful that this impasse will be resolved as soon as possible, with duty-free access for U.S. pork maintained. This is especially important now that key competitors such as the European Union are making market access gains in Mexico and view it as a promising market for their pork products.

Canada’s Department of Finance also announced that the Canadian government intends to impose countermeasures in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs.