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Import and export meat prices fluctuate in response to COVID-19 pandemic

August 19, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed U.S. food consumption, as restaurants closed and people shifted to eating at home. Pandemic-related supply and demand shocks in the United States and worldwide caused import and export meat prices to fluctuate in 2020. Lower demand caused import meat prices to fall 2.3 percent in January and 1.0 percent in February. Export meat prices edged up 0.1 percent in January before decreasing 1.8 percent in February. In March, export prices for meat rose 0.3 percent, while import meat prices continued to fall, by 4.0 percent.

1-month percent change in import and export prices for meat in 2020
Month Import meat Export meat

Jan 2020

-2.3% 0.1%

Feb 2020

-1.0 -1.8

Mar 2020

-4.0 0.3

Apr 2020

-3.5 -4.0

May 2020

11.1 5.0

Jun 2020

5.6 0.1

Jul 2020

-10.4 -2.9

Decreases in April for both import and export meat prices were more than offset by larger advances in May. Domestic supply shortfalls caused an increase in demand for foreign meat, contributing to an 11.1-percent rise in import meat prices in May, the largest 1-month advance on record. June increases for both import and export meat prices gave way to declines in July of 10.4 percent for import meat and 2.9 percent for export meat.

With these monthly fluctuations, import meat prices declined 5.8 percent from December 2019 to July 2020, while export meat prices declined 3.4 percent.

Meat import and export price indexes, December 2019–July 2020
Month Import meat Export meat

Dec 2019

100.0 100.0

Jan 2020

97.7 100.1

Feb 2020

96.7 98.3

Mar 2020

92.8 98.5

Apr 2020

89.6 94.6

May 2020

99.5 99.3

Jun 2020

105.1 99.4

Jul 2020

94.2 96.6

These data are from the International Price program. They are not seasonally adjusted. Import and export price changes may be revised in each of the 3 months after original publication. To learn more, see “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food price indexes and data collection.”

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Import and export meat prices fluctuate in response to COVID-19 pandemic at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/import-and-export-meat-prices-fluctuate-in-response-to-covid-19-pandemic.htm (visited September 18, 2021).

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