The US Meat Export Federation is taking a look at the latest data from USDA on beef and pork exports for July.
According to USMEF economist Erin Borror, July exports of US Beef rebounded from recent lows, but remained below 2019 levels. She says that while US slaughter levels have recovered from COVID-19 related interruptions earlier this year, limited labor availability is still holding back exports of certain items.
“For US beef in July, exports were the largest since March, but still trailed year ago by 9 percent or about 10,000 metric tons,” Borror said. “This was a little bit weaker than I had expected. Still reflecting the challenges of limited labor availability, particularly where we know it’s been challenging for plants to save the variety meats. It also reflects the lingering impact of high prices, especially when you think about the export business where some of that pricing might have been negotiated when there was still uncertainty about our production rebounding.”
China/Hong Kong drove U.S. pork export growth in the first seven months of the year, but Borror says more recent USDA weekly data points to strengthening demand from Mexico.
“July numbers for pork were also a bit smaller than I had forecast, but still – looking specifically at muscle cuts – we were down just a tick from year ago,” Borror said. “Again, it was the variety meats that slid and part of that simply being limited labor. Looking at January through July, hard to understate the China play here. China/Hong Kong accounted for 38 percent of US exports. Critically important, Mexico being above China in the weekly data for the last several weeks as they regained buying momentum.”
Borror also explained that the outlook for U.S. beef exports is impacted by the pace at which foodservice operations recover in key markets.