US Meat Exports Fail to Meet Expectations During First Quarter of 2019, Will this Trend Continue?

May 17, 2019

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The US Department of Agriculture has completed and released the first full quarter worth of data on US meat exports for 2019. Bottom line, according to Livestock Marketing Information Center Senior Economist Jim Robb, the numbers are a bit more disappointing than stakeholders had hoped.
 
Citing the recent report compiled by the US Meat Export Federation, Robb shared that in March of this year, US pork exports were down 4 percent year over year despite expectations that the ongoing African Swine Fever situation in Asia would boost activity. Most disappointing was that pork exports declined in our three key markets - Mexico, Japan and South Korea. In addition, broiler exports were also down by 2 percent year over year. On a tonnage basis, US beef exports saw a 6 percent decline year over year in aggregate - a much weaker level than anticipated. Robb pointed out that while beef exports to Mexico and South Korea were up during this period, the overwhelmingly lower exports to Japan contributed to the negative outcome of this report.
 
Robb remarked that the dynamics of Japan’s new trade agreements with global competitors of the US, those that remained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are starting to show a real impact on US market share of the island nation’s business. Whether or not this dip in exports is an anomaly or the start of a longer-term downward trend remains to be seen, but Robb suspects once the US finalizes some trade agreements of its own, things might begin to pick up.
 
“Hard to tell at this point but our expectations are that we will get some trade agreements settled and some tariff adjustments as we move through the year - these numbers should pick up,” Robb said. “But, the first three months have overall been disappointing in terms of total exports in 2019.”
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