US red meat exports slowed in July, the first time this year that year-over-year export volumes were lower for both beef and pork. But 2014 exports remain on a strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
July beef exports fell 15 percent in volume to 101,799 metric tons (mt), although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million. For January through July, beef exports were still 4 percent higher in volume (687,752 mt) and remained on a record pace in value ($3.89 billion, +13 percent).
Pork export volume was down 3 percent in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14 percent to $573.5 million. For January-July, exports established a record pace in both volume (1.32 million mt, +7 percent) and value ($4.0 billion) – marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.
Pork exports held strong through July, despite record prices
January-July pork exports equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – each up 2 percentage points from a year ago. July export value per head of slaughter was $67.81 – down from its record high in June but still up 23 percent from a year ago. January-July export value was up 21 percent to $64.45.
USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng, noted that pork exports' record pace in both volume and value so far this year was achieved despite record-high US prices and intense competition in many key markets. High prices for domestic pork in most regions – other than Europe and China – also helped stimulate global demand for US pork.
"Pork exports have overcome some severe price disadvantages this year, especially in Asian markets where we compete head-to-head with European pork," he explained. "US prices began to moderate in August, so these price gaps have now been narrowed or eliminated. Going forward, this should relieve some of the price pressure on US exporters."
Mainstay markets Japan, Mexico and South Korea, along with emerging markets such as Colombia, helped offset lower exports to China/Hong Kong. January-July highlights included:
• Exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year's record pace, increasing 12 percent in volume (388,157 mt) and 38 percent in value ($887.1 million).
• Despite a large increase in Japanese imports of European pork, US exports performed well in leading value market Japan. Pork muscle cut exports to Japan reached 245,497 mt (+2 percent) valued at $1.13 billion (+5 percent).
• A similar situation unfolded in Korea, where despite aggressive competition from the EU, total US pork exports increased 31 percent in volume (83,149 mt) and 49 percent in value ($257.5 million).
• Colombia is now the pacesetter for U.S. pork in the Central and South America region, with exports up 72 percent in volume (29,181 mt) and 88 percent in value ($80.8 million).
While Russia did not reopen to US pork until early March, and then only to pork from two US slaughter plants, exports through July still reached 32,163 mt valued at $116.7 million. In July alone, exports were 12,910 mt valued at $49.4 million. Exports to Russia were suspended on Aug. 7 due to Russia's import ban on many agricultural products from the United States, Canada, the EU, Norway and Australia.
Complete export totals for US pork, beef and lamb, visit USMEF.
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