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2018 Trade in Review
Created on Feb 05, 2019


Looking back at 2018 some producers may be happy the year is now behind us. Tariffs put in place by the United States (U.S.) government made for a rollercoaster of a year in terms of price.

As expected, U.S. pork exports to China finished the year -10.4% year-to-date (YTD) October 2018 versus YTD October 2017, which was a predicted but also a drastic change from the pre-tariff growth of 11.4% back in March (YTD) ending March 2018 versus YTD March 2017. In October 2018 alone the U.S. exported only 9,019 tonnes (carcass weight) compared to 14,154 in October 2017 reflecting a -36.3% reduction since the same month in the previous year.

Looking at Canada’s exports, China was our second largest export market with 24,430 tonnes of meat going to China in October, compared to 21,666 tonnes the year prior, an increase of 12.8% over the same month in the prior year. Data of Canada’s exports to China show that the steep decline of -21.3% (YTD) reported in March actually slowed by October to only -11.3 (YTD). This number reflects a growth of our Chinese market share in the second half of the year.

For North America, it was interesting to see the jump in Canadian exports to Mexico in the second half of the year. Back in March 2018, Canada was at 13.6% growth (YTD) over the previous year, an increase of approximately 1,834 tonnes compared to the same month in 2017. This same statistic jumped to 22.3% by the end of October 2018. The month of October alone reflected a 38.4% increase over the same month in 2017, meanwhile U.S. exports to Mexico showed a decline of -4%.

While the Canadian statistic can seem pretty drastic compared to the small percentage changes reported by the U.S., when you look at tonnes of carcass weight from this fall, Canada’s October 2018 3,838 tonne increase over 2017 surpasses the U.S.’s 2,789 tonnne decrease in October 2018 compared to 2017 (last reported data). This indicates that Canada is taking over a part of the Mexican market share that previously belonged to the U.S.

It will be interesting to see how some of these trends play out in 2019 as we see further developments in African Swine Fever, tariff wars and trade negotiations.

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