U.S. beef exports set a new value record in May while also increasing significantly year-over-year in volume, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). May pork exports were lower than a year ago, though January-May totals for U.S. pork remained ahead of last year’s pace.
Beef export volume was 117,871 metric tons (mt) in May, the sixth-largest on record, valued at a remarkable $722.1 million, which surpassed the previous monthly high (March 2018) by a healthy 4% and was 24% higher than a year ago. Through the first five months of 2018, beef exports were up 10% in volume to 547,157 mt while export value was $3.32 billion, 21% above last year’s record pace.
Exports accounted for 13.6% of total beef production in May, up from 13% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the%age exported was 11.1%, up from 10% last year. For January through May, exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production and 10.9% for muscle cuts – up from 12.8% and 10%, respectively, last year.
Beef export value averaged $313.39 per head of fed slaughter in May, up 18% from a year ago. The January-May average was $317.69 per head, also up 18%.
Following a record performance in April, May pork export volume was 217,209 mt, down 2% from a year ago and reflecting smaller exports of variety meats. Export value was $562.5 million, down 3.5%. For January through May, pork export volume was still 3% ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.08 million mt, while value increased 6% to $2.85 billion.
Exports accounted for 27.8% of total pork production in May, down from 29.5% a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported fell about one percentage point to 24%. For January through May, the percentage of total production exported was slightly below last year at 27.5%, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased slightly to 23.7%.
May pork export value averaged $55.05 per head slaughtered, down 6% from a year ago. The January-May per-head average was $55.57, up 2% from last year.
Exports of U.S. lamb were 998 mt in May, up 57% from a year ago and the largest volume since December 2015. Export value was up 10% to $1.8 million. For January through May, exports increased 43% in volume (4,455 mt) and 15% in value ($9.1 million). While much of this growth was driven by larger variety meat exports to Mexico, muscle cut exports increased year-over-year to the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan.