The West Coast port slowdown and labor dispute sharply lowered January meat ex­­ports, according to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The data was compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

January beef exports of 79,899 metric tons were down 18 percent with a value of $503.57 million, down 2 percent. January pork exports were down 16 percent to 161,165 metric tons, valued at $455.3 million, down 15 percent.

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said lower exports were expected.

"Conditions are now improving in the West Coast ports, but the damage caused by that impasse is still not finished, and it is clear that competitors capitalized on our inability to move product in a timely...