Tag Archives: Meat

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) concluded its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz., with the election of new officers. Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected USMEF chair. He succeeds Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson.

“My first involvement with USMEF was when I was marketing chair with the Idaho Cattle Association,” recalled Jones, who along with his brother operates Intermountain Beef, a custom feedlot. “As part of my duties I would go to national conventions where USMEF staff and leadership shared information about their work in international markets. This was a tremendous eye-opener. I valued the importance of export markets then, but value it even more today.”

Jones became president of the Idaho Cattle Association in November 2003, shortly before one of the most disruptive events in the history of the U.S. beef industry.

“About one month later, I got the phone call — BSE,” Jones said. “Then I truly realized how important our exports markets are, when they closed overnight. But in time I got to see USMEF in action, helping to get those markets reopened.”

Jones later chaired the Idaho Beef Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils, and served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, further enhancing his interest in expanding global demand for U.S. beef.

As he took the helm at USMEF, Jones encouraged members to remain steadfast in their commitment to international marketing, even in the face of trade barriers and ongoing volatility.

“I expect the trade environment to continue to be very challenging, but we have experienced, dedicated people on the ground in international markets across the world who give USMEF the ability to adapt and change,” he said.

The USMEF officer team for 2019-2020 reflects the organization’s diverse membership. The new chair-elect is Pat Binger of Wichita, Kan., a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Binger has been in the red meat industry for more than 30 years, including 27 years in international sales and 16 years directing Cargill’s overseas network of offices.

Mark Swanson is USMEF’s new vice chair. He is CEO of Birko Corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Colo., and has more than 20 years of experience with some of the most respected institutions in the protein industry, including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift and Company.

The newest USMEF officer is Dean Meyer, who was elected secretary-treasurer. Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He has also served as chair of the Iowa Corn Animal Agriculture and Environment Committee and the Lyon County (Iowa) Pork Producers.

On the final day of the conference USMEF members also received an informative breakdown of the trade landscape in Asia from Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute. Cutler previously served as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief negotiator on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and led bilateral negotiations with Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Cutler reviewed the events that have taken place since the U.S. withdrew from TPP, starting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to convince President Trump to return to the agreement. Eventually a preliminary U.S.-Japan trade agreement was reached and it is now under consideration by the Japanese Parliament.

“The great news for you is that this is largely an agricultural deal,” Cutler said. “Under this agreement we secured from Japan most of the agricultural market access that we forfeited when we lost TPP. And I think what’s really great for beef and pork is that when this deal goes into effect, which should be Jan. 1, we’re going to come into that deal ‘caught up’ with the other TPP countries, meaning that we’ll get the same tariff rates that they’re getting.”

Cutler said U.S. agriculture is understandably encouraged by progress in the U.S.-China negotiations, as the two sides are said to be close to completing a phase one agreement that will improve access for agricultural exports. But she cautioned that the situation remains very volatile, and that finalizing the details of such an agreement often proves difficult.

Earlier in the conference, a panel discussion focused on the potential impact of alternative proteins on global demand for red meat. The session was moderated by USMEF Economist Erin Borror and included Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea; Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in Europe; and Glynn Tonsor, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.

Facing up to the challenge posed alternative proteins was also a component of “Capitalizing on the Greatest Sustainability Story in History,” a presentation offered by Allan Gray, a professor at Purdue University and director of the school’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

Gray’s advice to USMEF members is to compete for consumers by helping people understand why traditional meat is the best choice.

“We all like choices, so the urge to take away alternative proteins as a choice may not be the best strategy,” he said. “What we should be saying to them is, ‘you have choices, but our product is the best choice and here is why.'”

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom briefed members on a number of key issues that could open new opportunities for U.S. red meat exports. In addition to the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, Halstrom said a U.S.-specific share of the European Union’s duty-free beef quota will deliver more reliable and consistent access to the high-value European market. This measure is currently under consideration in the EU Parliament. Halstrom also stressed the importance of bringing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to a ratification vote.

“From a carcass utilization standpoint, Canada and Mexico complement our Asian markets perfectly,” Halstrom said. “I hate to think what round prices would be if not for Canada and Mexico, because we don’t sell many rounds to Asia. On the pork side, there are some hams exported to Asia but it’s not the primary item. Hams are the No. 1 item going to Mexico and pretty high on the list for Canada.”

 

September exports of U.S. beef were steady with last year in volume but export value trended lower, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports were above year-ago levels in September but pulled back from the large totals posted in June, July and August.

September beef exports totaled 109,799 metric tons (mt), essentially even with last year, valued at $661.3 million (down 4%). Through the first three quarters of the year, beef exports were 2% below last year’s record pace in both volume (991,325 mt) and value ($6.1 billion).

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $318.54 in September, up significantly from the previous month but still 5% below last year. The January-September average was down 3% to $310.77. September exports accounted for 14.6% of total U.S. beef production and 11.9% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.8% and 12.4%, respectively, last year. Through the first three quarters of the year, exports accounted for 14.3% of total beef production and 11.6% for muscle cuts, down from 14.6% and 12.1%, respectively, in 2018.

September pork exports increased 13% from a year ago in both volume (202,248 mt) and value ($532.2 million). These results pushed January-September export volume 5% ahead of last year’s pace at 1.9 million mt, while value increased 2% to $4.89 billion.

Pork export value averaged $49.98 per head slaughtered in September, up 3% from a year ago. For January through September, the per-head average was down 2% to $51.50. September exports accounted for 25.1% of total U.S. pork production, slightly higher than a year ago, and 21.7% for muscle cuts only (down slightly). January-September exports accounted for 26.3% of total pork production and 22.8% for muscle cuts, both up slightly from a year ago.

“While red meat exports face obstacles in some key markets, global demand dynamics are strong and we see opportunities for significant growth in the fourth quarter and into 2020,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Progress is being made on market access improvements and this makes for a very positive outlook going forward.”

Beef export trend to Japan highlights need for tariff relief

Beef exports to leading market Japan continue to reflect the tariff rate gap between U.S. beef and its competitors. September exports were 14% below last year in both volume (24,041 mt) and value ($148.3 million). For the first three quarters of the year, exports to Japan were 4% below last year’s pace in volume (241,739 mt) and 5% lower in value ($1.51 billion). The decline was steeper for beef muscle cuts, which were down 10% in volume to 192,676 mt, valued at $1.22 billion (down 9%). Beef variety meat exports to Japan (mainly tongues and skirts) have been a bright spot in 2019, increasing 26% in volume (49,063 mt) and 15% in value ($290.8 million). While these items also face higher tariffs compared to competitors’ products, the rate is 12.8% versus 38.5% for U.S. muscle cuts.

“Japan is still delivering excellent value for U.S. beef producers, but tariff relief cannot come soon enough,” Halstrom explained, referring to the recently signed U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which is being discussed and considered for approval by the Japanese Parliament. “With a level playing field, the U.S. beef industry will move a wider range of products to our loyal customers in Japan and will definitely capitalize on emerging growth opportunities.”

Beef exports to South Korea continue to build on last year’s record performance, as September exports climbed 11% from a year ago in volume (21,267 mt) and 6% in value ($151.6 million). For January through September, exports reached 195,557 mt (up 8%) valued at $1.36 billion (up 10%). Korea surpassed Japan as the top value market for U.S. beef muscle cuts, reaching $1.36 billion through September (up 10% year-over-year). Muscle cut volume to Korea increased 9% to 185,288 mt. Korean customs data (January through October) indicate U.S. beef accounts for 56% of Korea’s beef imports this year, up from 53% last year.

Fueled by strong demand for variety meat, September beef exports to Mexico were slightly above last year in volume (19,464 mt) and 2% higher in value ($91.2 million). Through the first three quarters of the year, exports to Mexico reached 175,992 mt, down 1% from a year ago, while value increased 5% to $820.7 million. Mexico is the leading destination for beef variety meat, and September was an especially strong month, as variety meat exports climbed 26% from a year ago in volume (9,018 mt) and 51% in value ($26.4 million). While January-September variety meat exports were steady year-over-year in volume (71,522 mt), value jumped 16% to $192.5 million.

January-September highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • Beef exports to Taiwan remain well ahead of last year’s record pace, climbing 10% in volume (47,868 mt) and 6% in value ($427.3 million). In just nine months, exports to Taiwan have already surpassed all full-year totals posted before 2018.
  • Led by impressive growth in Indonesia, beef exports to the ASEAN region were 31% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (44,481 mt) and 15% higher in value ($214.5 million). Exports to Indonesia soared 74% in volume (16,984 mt) and were 42% higher in value ($60.5 million). Demand for beef variety meat increased at an even more rapid pace in Indonesia, jumping 83% in volume (9,207 mt) and 78% in value ($18.4 million).
  • Strong September results in Central America pushed beef exports 8% above last year’s pace in volume (11,351 mt) and 13% higher in value ($64.6 million), led by strong growth in Guatemala and Panama.
  • Although volume slowed in September, beef exports to the Dominican Republic remained on a record pace, increasing 39% from a year ago in volume (6,594 mt) and 32% in value ($53.2 million).

Rebuilding effort continues for U.S. pork in Mexico; exports to China/Hong Kong moderate

Since Mexico removed its 20% retaliatory duty on U.S. pork in late May, exports have rebounded significantly but not yet to the record-large, pre-tariff levels posted in 2017 and early 2018. September exports to Mexico were down 1% year-over-year in volume (56,467 mt), but value increased 7% to $97.6 million. Through the first three quarters of the year, exports were down 10% in volume (529,776 mt) and 9% in value ($919.4 million).

“Although the U.S. industry has made rebuilding pork demand in Mexico a top priority, there is definitely a lingering effect from the retaliatory duties, which were in place for nearly a full year,” Halstrom said. “While it is a great relief to once again move pork to Mexico duty-free, ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would certainly help the psychology of the market and bolster our major customers’ confidence in the U.S. supply chain.”

Although dramatically higher than a year ago, September pork exports to China/Hong Kong pulled back from the large totals posted over the previous two months as China’s domestic pork supplies felt increasing pressure from African swine fever (ASF). September volume was 51,192 mt, up 158% from a year ago, while value increased 123% to $115.6 million. For January through September, exports to China/Hong Kong were up 47% in volume (407,514 mt) and 25% in value ($833.5 million).

“Obviously we are anxious to learn the details of the phase 1 agreement between the U.S. and China and hopeful that it removes obstacles for U.S. pork,” Halstrom said. “Exports to China/Hong Kong are improving, but certainly not to the level that could be achieved if U.S. pork returned to normal tariff levels and if the U.S.-China agreement addresses non-tariff barriers as well.”

The U.S. pork industry stands to benefit significantly from the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which will bring tariffs on U.S. pork in line with those imposed on major competitors such as Canada and the European Union. Japan remains the leading value destination for U.S. pork, but September volume was down 8% to 27,812 mt and value fell 5% to $116.2 million. Through September, exports to Japan trailed last year’s pace by 6% in both volume (278,352 mt) and value ($1.14 billion).

January-September highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • While September exports slowed to mainstay market Colombia and to the region as a whole, pork exports to South America were still 24% above last year’s record pace in volume (114,535 mt) and 26% higher in value ($287.9 million). Chile has been South America’s growth pacesetter in 2019, with exports climbing 60% in volume (33,992 mt) and 53% in value ($97.6 million). The U.S. is now Chile’s largest pork supplier and opportunities continue to expand as more Chilean pork is exported to China.
  • A strong September performance pushed pork exports to Central America 16% above last year’s record pace in volume (67,982 mt) and 19% higher in value ($165.1 million). Exports trended higher to Honduras, the largest Central American destination for U.S. pork, and Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua have achieved excellent growth in 2019.
  • Exports to Oceania continue to reach new heights, climbing 37% from a year ago in volume (85,557 mt) and 33% in value ($243 million), with impressive growth in both Australia and New Zealand.
  • While ASF has impacted pork production in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam but more recently spreading into the Philippines, lower domestic prices have affected the ASEAN region’s demand for imports. U.S. shipments to the ASEAN dropped sharply in September and through the third quarter trailed last year’s pace by 15% in volume (41,905 mt) and 23% in value ($95 million). However, pork and hog prices have started to trend higher in Vietnam, and the European Union’s pork exports to Vietnam were record-large in August, suggesting potential for larger U.S. exports in coming months.

September lamb exports trend higher

Exports of U.S. lamb increased 22% year-over-year in September to 1,435 mt, while value improved 9% to $1.77 million. Through the first three quarters of the year, exports were 31% above last year’s pace at 12,061 mt, while value increased 13% to $19.3 million. Lamb muscle cut exports were 9% lower than a year ago in volume (1,652 mt) but increased 2% in value ($10.2 million). Markets showing promising muscle cut growth included the Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala.

Complete January-September export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics Web page.

Monthly charts for U.S. pork and beef exports are also available online.

If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or call 303-547-0030.

NOTES:

  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.
  • U.S. pork currently faces retaliatory duties in China. China’s duty rate on frozen pork muscle cuts and variety meat increased from 12 to 37% in April 2018, from 37 to 62% in July 2018 and from 62 to 72% on Sept. 1, 2019. Mexico’s duty rate on pork muscle cuts increased from zero to 10% in June 2018 and jumped to 20% the following month. Beginning in June 2018, Mexico also imposed a 15% duty on sausages and a 20% duty on some prepared hams. Mexico’s duties were removed in May 2019 but were in effect for much of the period reported above.
  • U.S. beef faces retaliatory duties in China. China’s duty rate on beef muscle cuts and variety meats increased from 12 to 37% in July 2018 and from 37 to 47% on Sept. 1, 2019. Canada imposed a 10% duty in July 2018 that applied to HS 160250 cooked/prepared beef products. Canada’s duty was removed in May 2019 but was in effect for much of the period reported above.
 

 

When writing a weekly column, it’s tempting to toss red meat to the readers rather than dig into more complicated issues. For once, the latest scientific news is providing an opportunity to do both at the same time.

 

The scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine recently published a major series of studies about red meat consumption. The authors found that current scientific evidence is too weak to justify telling people to eat less red meat.

 

The response was immediate and furious from groups devoted to eliminating animal agriculture. For years they have leaned on anti-meat recommendations to cloak their true agenda in the language of human health. The groups’ real goals are pushing radical animal rights and remaking the world economy under the guise of climate change prevention.

 

The studies’ data found only minuscule support for lowering red meat consumption. Eating three fewer servings per week might reduce a person’s chance of a heart attack by 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent and chances of cancer by 0.7 percent. The studies found no effect whatsoever on breast, colorectal, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic or prostate cancer, overall deaths or deaths resulting from heart disease. Even these minor statistical blips might be attributable to other traits like income level, education level or exercise frequency.

 

The authors found the evidence was too weak to recommend that individuals radically change their diets. They noted that people’s tastes and preferences should matter in health recommendations. Americans enjoy meat and meat dishes. They are an integral part of our culture and have been for generations. This is and should be relevant to dietary recommendations.

 

If the movement to eliminate meat was really about these tiny health concerns, the massive effort required to change American culture would simply not be worth it. But the movement to end meat consumption was never just about health concerns. Much of the rage has instead focused on radical animal rights beliefs or the alleged environmental harm caused by cattle production.

 

The “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” (PCRM) is actually an Orwellian-named radical vegan advocacy group. PCRM spends over $15 million a year on efforts to end animal agriculture. It has invested nearly 35 years and countless millions of dollars in pushing this agenda. PCRM was so afraid of letting Americans see the results of these scientific studies, it filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission seeking a gag order to keep the journal from even publishing them.

 

Americans should be trusted to make their own choices about how they want to live, what news to read, and what food to eat. If living an enjoyable life actually adds a tenths-of-a-percent risk of disease, we should be allowed to make that choice. And when the proof of even these tiny risks is this weak, public health authorities have no business sticking their noses in our food.