The trade wars with China and Mexico are cutting into U.S. exports of beef and pork.
Pork exports were down 9% in volume and 17% in value year over year, the U.S. Meat Export Federation reported in its monthly trade tally.
Beef exports declined 6% in volume and 3% in value. That’s a stark contrast to last year’s record-breaking performance, which brought a 7% increase in volume and a 15% increase in value.
“The stiff headwinds trade disputes have created for U.S. pork exports have certainly not subsided,” Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO, said in a press release accompanying the trade data.
Retaliatory duties continue to pressure pork exports to Mexico and China. U.S. pork exports year-to-date through February were down 13% in volume and 32% in value to Mexico and down 22% in volume and 34% in value to China.
“USMEF is encouraged by reports of progress toward resolution of these disputes. But in the meantime, missed opportunities for export growth are mounting,” Halstrom said.
U.S. pork is also facing headwinds in Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, with higher duties compared to Canada, the EU and Mexico.
Through February, U.S. pork exports to Japan were down 9% in volume and 12% in value year over year.
The launch of negotiations on a U.S.-Japan trade agreement, however, is positive news for both pork and beef exports.
“A great deal is at stake for both U.S. beef and U.S. pork in those negotiations, as exports to Japan deliver remarkable returns for the entire U.S. supply chain, and it is essential that we get back on a level playing field with our competitors,” Halstrom said.
U.S. beef exports to Japan remained strong through February, up 8% in volume and 10% in value. But the competitive landscape continues to intensify as major competitors enjoyed another decrease in import duties on April 1, USMEF reported.
U.S. beef exports to Mexico through February held steady in volume and were up 13% in value, with strong growth in exports of muscle cuts – up 15% in volume and 19% in value. But exports to China/Hong Kong were down 38% in volume and 33% in value, and exports to Canada fell 15% in volume and 13% in value.
But USMEF also noted gains in both beef and pork trade.
In the beef arena, U.S. exports to the ASEAN region through February grew 26% in volume and 4% in value year over year. Exports to Central America grew 17% in volume and 14% in value, and exports to Africa were up 56% in volume and 1% in value.
On the pork side, exports through February to South America were up 44% in volume and 49% in value year over year. They were also up 31% in volume and 18% in value to Oceania; 16% in volume and 12% in value to Central America; 18% in volume and 16% in value to the Caribbean; 29% in volume and 21% in value to the ASEAN region; and 85% in volume and 50% in value to Taiwan.