Tag Archives: Meat

Underpinned by record production, U.S. pork exports completed a tremendous first quarter with new March records for volume and value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports also trended higher year-over-year in March, establishing a record first quarter pace.

“March export results were very solid, especially given the COVID-19 related headwinds facing customers in many international markets at that time,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Stay-at-home orders created enormous challenges for many countries’ foodservice sectors, several key currencies slumped against the U.S. dollar and logistical obstacles surfaced in some key markets – yet demand for U.S. red meat proved very resilient.”

Some recent events, including temporary closures of several U.S. processing plants, are not reflected in the first quarter export data. Halstrom cautioned that April and May exports could slow as a result, but his outlook for 2020 remains positive.

“These are truly unprecedented circumstances, creating an uncertain global business climate,” Halstrom explained. “The U.S. meat industry has spent decades developing a loyal and well-informed customer base throughout the world, which has embraced the quality and value delivered by U.S. red meat. Their commitment to U.S. products during this crisis is much-appreciated.”

Strong demand from China/Hong Kong continued to drive U.S. pork exports to new heights, but March exports also increased significantly to Mexico, Japan and Canada. Export volume reached 291,459 metric tons (mt), up 38% from a year ago and topping the previous record set in December 2019. Export value increased 47% to $764.2 million. Through the first quarter, pork exports increased 40% from a year ago to 838,118 mt, valued at $2.23 billion (up 52%).

Pork export value per head slaughtered reached $63.99 in March, up 32% from a year ago. The January-March per head average was $64.66, up 40%. March exports accounted for 31.6% of total pork production and 28.4% for pork muscle cuts – each up about six percentage points from a year ago, even as March production increased by 12%. Through the first quarter, exports accounted for 31.4% of total pork production and 28.5% for muscle cuts, up from 24.4% and 21.3%, respectively, in 2019. U.S. pork production was up 9% in the first quarter, with industry expansion fueled by strong international demand, especially in several key Asian markets still battling African swine fever (ASF).

Driven by solid growth in Japan, where U.S. beef is benefiting from reduced tariffs under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, as well as South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Taiwan, March beef exports totaled 115,308 mt, up 7% from a year ago, valued at $702.2 million – up 4% and the highest monthly value since July. First quarter beef exports climbed 9% from a year ago to 334,703 mt, valued at $2.06 billion (up 8%).

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $308.21 in March, down 8% from the very high March 2019 average. For the first quarter, per-head export value increased 2% to $317.06. March beef exports accounted for 13.9% of total production and 11.3% for beef muscle cuts, down from 14.8% and 12%, respectively, a year ago. Exports accounted for 14% of first quarter beef production and 11.4% for muscle cuts, each up slightly year-over-year. U.S. beef production increased by 14% in March and 8% in the first quarter as export growth continued to make a critical contribution to carcass value even as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global foodservice sector.

USMEF’s full first quarter summary for U.S. pork, beef and lamb exports, including market-specific highlights, is available online.

The reduction of meat processing capacity caused by U.S. plant closures and slowdowns has created a massive bottleneck in the nation’s meat and livestock supply chain.

Nearly two dozen plants that process beef and pork products closed in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak, while many others have had to slow their production as a result of the disease. According to a new report from CoBank, even if the reduction of processing capacity is temporary, it will likely have a lasting impact on meat processors, livestock producers, retail stores and consumers.

Meat supplies for retail grocery stores could shrink nearly 30 percent by Memorial Day, leading to retail pork and beef price increases as high as 20 percent relative to prices last year. This week, Midwest-based grocery chain Hy-Vee announced limits on customer purchases of meat products.

Customers are limited to four packages of a combination of fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken when they checkout at all store locations. Costco announced similar limits earlier this week, as did Sam’s Club.

Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week sent two letters to Governors across the nation and leadership of major meat processing companies regarding the reopening of meat processing facilities.

The letters establish the Department of Agriculture’s expectations for the implementation of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order signed last week. The President’s Executive order directs plants to follow the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance specific to the meat processing industry to keep facilities open while maintaining worker safety.

USDA expects state and local officials to work with meat-processing facilities to maintain operational status while protecting their employees’ health. USDA has also directed meat and poultry processing plants currently closed and without a clear timetable for near-term reopening to submit to USDA written documentation of their protocol, developed based on the CDC/OSHA guidance, and resume operations as soon as they are able after implementing the guidance.

Planting progress.  USDA report next week on the 12th.  Delivery against the May futures starting to roll in.  Will we see some changes to exports, ethanol and what could be on the balance sheet for old crop?  Will there be a corn vs. bean war?  War with China again?  Livestock…rolling positions.  Cash prices & box beef movement.  So how does Wendy’s/McDonald’s COSTCO/HyVee limiting meat purchases.  How is this long/short term going to affect the markets?  How do you market your cattle?  Weight concerns going into summer?

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says meatpacking plants that have been slowed or shut down due to coronavirus will open again in days, not weeks. Slaughterhouse employees are set to receive additional protective gear and will have access to COVID-19 testing “virtually immediately.”

The Hill Dot Com says Perdue expects the shortfall in meat production is likely as high as 30 percent but will drop to between 10 and 15 percent within 10 days. However, Perdue does say that production likely won’t return to the pre-pandemic pace as new safety procedures are put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus. “There will be some less production, some inefficiency based on line speeds, some employees that will not be able to come back to work,” Perdue says. “We want to assure the workers and their community of their safety.”

As the virus continued to spread across the country, more than a dozen meat processing plants have been temporarily shut down due to outbreaks. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union reported at least 6,500 workers who had directly been affected by the coronavirus, as well as 20 deaths at plants across the country. The USDA will require processors to submit plans to operate packing facilities safely and review those measures with local officials.

Another week closer to whatever the new norm will be.  Mind sets are starting to change.  Tough week was the corn market, folks are getting anxious to get back into the field.  Will there be big acres & supplies?  How is the basis holding out for corn & beans?  How is the ethanol market faring?  cattle started to stabilize-there is a long way yet to go.  Cash trade on cattle has slowed down.   What does all this pricing mean to the consumer as they head to the grocery store?  How did cash fair for cattle & hogs?


Food security is top of mind for many across the globe. Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic consumers have rushed to the store to stock up. As the shelves clear the supply chain is quickly trying to re-tool to meet the rising retail demand vs. the dropping food service demand. Still images of milk being dumped, produce being plowed under and meat cases cleared show the transition isn’t happening quickly.

So in the greater definition of food security do consumers have ample choices to ensure that food supply? That was the key question that Jacob Wingebach asked himself long before the pandemic. “See a need. Fill a need. That is what my Grandpa always use to say” with that the philosophy Jacob Wingebach saw a need for more choices of meat. He also happened to know of a small beef processing plant for sale in Mullen Nebraska. Wingebach made the entrepreneurial jump leaving behind a job as a federal inspector for nuclear power plants. Wingebach has now been operating Sandhills Beef Company for over five. He is currently trying to put the final touches on a plan that would help his business and give local ranchers and cattle feeders the opportunity to market their beef directly to the consumer.   Hear the plan first hand from Wingebach himself right here: