US beef exports hit their highest monthly volume for the entire year in October, while pork exports achieved their second-best month of 2009, according to the latest statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Pork exports continued their upward momentum with a strong performance in October. Exports of 164,092 metric tons (361.8 million pounds) represented the second-largest monthly volume this year, while pork muscle cut exports achieved their highest volume of 2009 at 128,392 metric tons (283.1 million pounds).
Year-to-date exports are down 11% in volume (to 1.53 million metric tons or 3.37 billion pounds) and 13% in value (to $3.57 billion) compared to 2008, the highest ever year for pork exports, but they remain nearly 50% higher than the second-best year on record, 2007. This year, exports account for 22.3% of total production compared to 24% last year, while the value of exports equates to $38.17 per hog slaughtered compared to last year's $42.31.
“As we've seen on the beef side, the downturn in pork exports has been prevalent around the world,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The most recent data shows pork exports from the European Union are down nearly 20% and Mexico's are down 17%.”
Brazil and Chile
Among major exporters, only Brazil and Chile are up, and those were driven by sharp drop in the export value of pork from those countries. In addition, Chile is rebounding from dioxin-related market access issues that hampered it in 2008, and it is benefiting from Chile's free trade agreement with South Korea, which limits duties on Chilean pork to about half of those paid on US pork.
Mexico continues to be a stalwart for US pork exports. For the first 10 months of 2009, exports to Mexico are up 33% in volume (409,628 metric tons or 903.1 million pounds) and 10% in value ($606.1 million) compared year-ago totals. It is the No. 1 volume market for US pork exports.
Japan remains the No. 1 value market for US pork. While export volume (355,323 metric tons or 783.4 million pounds) is down slightly through October, the value of nearly $1.3 billion still exceeds last year's pace by about 1%. October exports to Japan increased by nearly 20% in both volume and value over September and exceeded the 2009 monthly average in terms of both volume and value.
Japanese consumers have embraced US pork, and we've found the food service and retail sectors very receptive to partnering with USMEF on promotional and educational programs,” said Seng. “Even though it is the No. 1 market for the value of US pork exports, we still see considerable room for growth there.”
October exports to the Greater China/Hong Kong region reached their highest level of the year despite a continued ban on direct exports to mainland China. US pork also overcame a variety of market access issues by recording a strong month in Russia. For January through October, however, these markets are still down more than 40% compared to 2008.
Pork exports to the ASEAN region achieved their second-highest monthly total of the year in October, with the Philippines accounting for most of the region's growth. Results were similar in Korea, where pork exports still trail 2008 by about 19%, but October exports were the highest since May.
Though down slightly from an all-time record in September, pork exports to Taiwan recorded another solid month and have increased by 38% in volume and 27% in value for the year versus 2008. Exports to the Oceania region of Australia and New Zealand have increased 18% in volume and 11% in value.
• US Meat Export Federation