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(KMAland) -- Japan is being considered a bright spot for U.S. beef and pork exports in 2020.

U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom says the April export statistics were resilient given the supply chain disruptions as well as the COVID-19 impact overseas.

“Pork exports in the month of April were up 22 percent year on year,” Halstrom said. “A slower rate of growth compared to the previous month, but still a good rate of growth led by China and Japan. On the beef side we saw exports slip a bit. We were down six percent year on year. The bright spot for April resides around Japan and China. We are seeing the benefits of the U.S.-Japan Ag Agreement which put us in a level playing field with our major competitors.”

With its domestic pork production slowed by African swine fever, Halstrom notes that China continues to show very strong demand for U.S. pork and beef.

“Pork into China we saw dramatic growth of 350 percent year on year,” Halstrom said. “The supply situation is still relatively short in China, and the outlook for the balance of the year remains positive as far as exports of pork from the U.S. The beef side saw some gains. We saw growth on beef into China of about double from where we were a year ago at almost 1400 tons. Keep in mind that the implementation of new protocols went into effect in March, so April was really the first month where we saw the benefits of the China Phase One Agreement.”

While Halstrom expects global demand for U.S. red meat to remain strong this year, he cautioned that temporary supply disruptions will likely impact May and June results. He also notes that weakened currencies in Mexico and some other Latin American markets have slowed U.S. exports, as well as COVID-19 related restrictions on consumers and businesses in these countries.

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