Latest meat trade data encouraging

By: Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

The latest trade data for April generally showed relative improvement in meat trade despite a variety of continuing challenges.  The strong U.S. dollar continues to work against U.S. meat exports and support increased imports.  The avian influenza outbreak continues to grow and impact poultry trade; while high prices and limited supplies are the biggest challenges for the beef sector.

Despite bans or restrictions in most markets for U.S. poultry, broiler exports in April were fractionally higher than year ago levels holding year to date broiler exports to a decrease of 8.4 percent compared to last year.  Most importantly among broiler export markets is Mexico, which was up 1.5 percent year over year in April and is up 4.8 percent for the year to date.  Mexico is by far the largest broiler export market, accounting for 21 percent of total 2014 broiler exports.  Year to date broiler exports to China and South Korea are down over 90 percent along with zero exports to Russia (banned in 2014 prior to avian influenza).  Turkey exports were down 27.2 percent in April contributing to an 11.4 percent year to date decline compared to last year.

Pork exports were up 10.9 percent in April, cutting the year to year date pork export decrease to 7.4 percent.  This is the first year over year increase in monthly pork exports in 2015.  Increased pork supplies and lower pork prices are overcoming the negative impacts of the strong U.S. to boost pork exports.  Among major pork export markets, year over year April exports were stronger to Japan (up 16.2 percent) and Mexico (up 15.2 percent), China (up 1.4 percent), and South Korea (up 43.2 percent) while Canada was down 13.9 percent.

April U.S. beef exports were down 3.6 percent year over year, the smallest monthly decrease so far this year.  Year to date beef exports are down 8.4 percent compared to 2014.  Increased year over year April exports to Japan (up 4.8 percent) and South Korea (up 21.7 percent) contributed to year to date increases in U.S. beef exports to both countries.  However, North American beef trade is more troubling with April decreases to Canada (down 10.4 percent) and Mexico (down 25.2 percent) contributing to year to date decreases in beef exports to both countries.  The looming threat of tariffs related to Country of Origin Labeling adds to the prospects for weaker exports to Canada and Mexico in the coming months.

April U.S. beef imports were up 27.5 percent compared to one year ago, the smallest monthly increase year over year so far this year.  Year to date beef imports are up 40.9 percent compared to one year ago.  Australia (up 36.7 percent) and New Zealand (up 28.2 percent) were the leading sources of beef imports in April along with Canada (up 4.6 percent) and Mexico (up 61.4 percent) compared to April, 2014.  Beef imports from Brazil, though less than 4 percent of total beef imports in April, were up 95 percent year over year and are up 135 percent for the year to date compared to last year.