Plenty of dynamics are impacting U.S. and global meat markets, some of which are beginning to be revealed in U.S. meat trade data. In the latest data, May U.S. beef exports were fractionally lower, down 0.1 percent year over year. Total U.S. beef exports are down 3.6 percent so far this year with data from January to May.
Beef exports to Japan, the leading beef export market, were down by 4.9 percent year over year in May and are down 4.5 percent for the first five months of 2019. Beef exports to Japan are beginning to show the impact of the CPTPP, in which the U.S. does not participate, leaving the U.S. at a bigger tariff disadvantage. Beef exports continue to grow to No. 2 market South Korea, up 10.1 percent year over year in May and up 11.7 percent so far this year. Beef export growth to South Korea is less robust so far this year compared to the past five years which have averaged over 21 percent growth annually. Mexico remains the third largest beef export market this year with growth of 2.9 percent year over year in May and 6.1 percent for the first five months of the year.
Canada is the fourth largest U.S. beef export market but continues to decline. After dropping 2.9 percent in 2018, beef exports to Canada are down 11.5 percent year over year in May and are down 14.3 percent so far in 2019. Likewise, beef exports to Hong Kong continue to decrease, down 25.8 percent in May compared to last year and down 41 percent year over year for the January to May period. This follows an annual decrease of 8.5 percent in U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong in 2018.
U.S. beef imports are up 5.8 percent year over year so far in 2019, augmented by a 6.4 percent monthly increase in May. Canada remains the largest source of beef imports, up 9.9 percent in May and up 12.6 percent year over year for the January to May period.
Australia, which dropped to No. 2 among beef imports to the U.S. in 2017, is bouncing back with additional herd liquidation in the country fueling increased beef production and exports. Beef imports from Australia were up 30.4 percent in May compared to last year and are up 14 percent year over year for the first five months of the year. This follows year-over-year decreases in U.S. imports of Australian beef since 2015. Beef imports from No. 3 Mexico were up 9.7 percent year over year in May and are up 20.4 percent thus far in 2019. Beef imports from No. 4 New Zealand are down 20.4 percent in May and 22 percent so far this year.
Pork exports in May were down just 0.8 percent year over year despite a 32.5 percent year-over-year decrease in exports to Mexico, the largest U.S. pork export market. May pork exports were boosted by a sharp jump in pork exports to China, up 94.6 percent for the month and up 7.2 percent for the year to date. Despite the continuing Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork, the massive loss in pork production in China due to African Swine Fever appears to be fueling the anticipated boost in Chinese demand for pork and other proteins. Total U.S. pork exports are down 3.8 percent year over year for the year to date.
Broiler exports were up 13.4 percent year over year in May led by an 18.1 percent monthly increase broiler exports to Mexico, which accounts for 21.1 percent of total broiler exports. Year-to-date broiler exports to Mexico are up 9.3 percent year over year. Other major broiler export markets, including Angola, Canada and Hong Kong, each of which accounts for less than 5 percent of broiler exports, were all down in May and so far in 2019. Year-to-date total broiler exports through May are up 1.6 percent year over year.
(Derrell S. Peel is an extension livestock marketing specialist for Oklahoma State University.)