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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Global trade important to all U.S. meats

STILLWATER, Okla. – Redoing trade agreements has been a stated focus of the Trump Administration, fueling a degree of anxiety among some in the animal agriculture industry as they try to determine what the future holds in terms of short- and long-term effects.
Global trade important to all U.S. meats

Succulent flame-grilled steak is a popular choice amongst meat lovers worldwide. (Photo by Todd Johnson)

“Changes or disruptions in trade of individual meats often has impacts on other meats in various international markets, as well as impacts on domestic meat supplies, consumption and prices in U.S. markets,” said Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist.

Net exports of combined beef, pork and poultry have increased over time. Imports of all meat have been relatively constant at about 4.7 percent of domestic meat production since 1960. Peel said 1992 was the first year meat exports exceeded meat imports, resulting in positive net meat exports.

“Exports of meat have averaged 12.3 percent of production since 1992 compared to 1.3 percent from 1960 to 1991,” he said. “Exports of meat exceeded 5 percent of production for the first time in 1992 and grew rapidly for beef, pork and poultry in the 1990s with total meat exports exceeding 10 percent of production by 1996.”

Total meat exports have exceeded double-digit percentages of production since 1996 except for 2004, which dropped briefly to 9.5 percent of total production.

“This was largely due to reduced beef exports as a result of bovine spongioform enchepalogoy or BSE as it is more commonly known,” Peel said.

With lower meat imports in recent years and continued strong exports, net meat exports have exceeded double-digit levels since 2008, averaging 12 percent from 2008-2016 with exports averaging 16.1 percent and imports averaging 4.1 percent of production.

Net meat exports for 2016 were 11 percent of domestic production, up from 2015 levels but lower than peak net exports of 13.7 percent in 2011 and 2012. Most industry analysts expect net meat exports to continue improving year over year in 2017 with exports increasing and imports declining year over year.

Peel said net meat exports are projected to approach 12 percent of production in 2017 assuming no unexpected changes or disruptions. “Any number of disease incidents or political changes in the United States or globally could affect this forecast,” he said.

The top five destinations for U.S. meat exports in 2016 were:
● Mexico at 23.6 percent;
● Japan at 12.9 percent;
● Canada at 8.3 percent;
● South Korea at 6.3 percent; and
● Hong Kong at 5.4 percent

The top five countries accounted for 56.5 percent of meat exports with the NAFTA market accounting for 31.9 percent and the three Asian markets accounting for 24.6 percent of total meat exports. These five countries accounted for 82.6 percent of beef exports, 74.7 percent of pork exports and 32.2 percent of poultry exports.

“All five countries were important markets for beef, pork and poultry in 2016, with the exception of no poultry exports to Japan and less than 5 percent of total poultry exports going to South Korea,” Peel said.

Other important markets tend to be dominated by individual meats. For example, poultry accounts for 85.7 percent of U.S. meat exports to the Caribbean, 4.7 percent of total meat exports; pork accounts for 99 percent of U.S. meat exports to China, 3.5 percent of total meat exports; and beef accounts for 87.7 percent of meat exports to Taiwan, 1.1 percent of total meat exports.

U.S. meat imports are heavily dominated by beef, which accounted for 71.1 percent of meat imports in 2016. Pork accounted for 25.8 percent of meat imports.

“Beef trade is much more complex than other meats with many diverse product markets and the massive impact of the ground beef market,” Peel said. “In 2016, it is estimated 45 percent of U.S. domestic beef consumption was ground beef. An estimated 71 percent of beef imports were trimmings used for ground beef, with imported trimmings providing about 48 percent of the lean trimmings needed for ground beef production.”

Oklahoma ranks third nationally in the production of beef cows, ninth nationally in swine production and 11th nationally in broiler production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

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Donald Stotts
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Email: donald.stotts@okstate.edu  

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
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