Market News & Headlines >> USDA Clarifies Pork Export Reporting

USDA on Monday clarified that exporters must report sales of pork and beef carcasses under the Export Sales Reporting Program, a move that should result in better tracking of how much U.S. pork China has been buying up as it fights to maintain sufficient supplies following the decimation of its hog herd by a severe outbreak of African swine fever. 

China, the world’s largest pork consumer, is buying U.S. hog carcasses from companies like WH Group Ltd’s Smithfield Foods because Chinese meat processors need the entire animal, analysts told Reuters News Service. 

The USDA move came in response to informal inquiries about whether exports of different types of beef and pork carcasses must be reported under the regulations.

The rule requiring reporting of pork export sales, implemented in 2013, specified that exporters must report sales of pork “muscle cuts”, but it was unclear whether that included different types of carcasses. 

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services on Monday morning published a final rule, effective immediately, adding a footnote to the export regulations regarding pork and beef to clarify the definition of “muscle cut”. 

“For greater clarity, ‘muscle cuts’ includes carcasses, whether whole, divided in half or further sub-divided into individual primals, sub-primals, or fabricated cuts, with or without bone. Carcasses which are broken down, boxed, and sold as a complete unit are muscle cut,” says a footnote added to the regulations concerning pork and beef exports. 

U.S. carcass shipments to China picked up in June after Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, retooled a processing plant in Virginia to slice hogs in thirds for export to China in boxes. Shipments reached a total of 78,390 metric tons by the end of September, according to USDA data, topping 676 tons shipped in 2017.