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News 463 views last update:Oct 17, 2012

USMEF: Pork exports in August lower than a year ago

Despite a continued slump in U.S. red meat export volume and a further dip in August sales, the value of beef and pork exports for the first eight months of the year remained slightly ahead of 2011’s record-setting pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

US pork exports in August were down 6 percent in volume (175,310 metric tons) and 7 percent in value ($495.5 million) compared to a year ago, but these totals were up 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, from the previous month’s performance. Through the first eight months of the year, 2012 pork exports were up 2 percent in volume (1.474 million metric tons) and 8 percent in value ($4.13 billion) from last year’s record levels.

“We face a challenging business climate in several key markets, with rising production costs and slowing economic growth creating some anxiety among buyers,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We’re also seeing a surge in domestic meat supplies in some areas, particularly in South Korea. But the commitment to enhancing global demand for U.S. beef and pork remains very strong, as evidenced by the terrific support of our producer organizations. These are the circumstances in which effective global marketing takes on an even greater level of importance, as producers need to maximize the value of every cut and every carcass.”

On the pork side, exports through August accounted for 23.7 percent of muscle cut production and 27 percent when including variety meats, compared to 22.8 percent and 27.3 percent in 2011. Export value averaged $56.51 per head slaughtered, up from last year’s $53.54 during the first eight months of the year.

US pork strong in mainstay markets Mexico, Japan

While beef exports to Mexico struggle, pork exports continue to perform well – with January-August volume (391,932 metric tons) increasing 14 percent and value ($727.2 million) up 11 percent from a year ago. August exports were up 16 percent in volume to 51,841 metric tons and 9 percent in value to $101.4 million.

“Mexico’s meat processing sector is an outstanding customer for US pork, but USMEF has also made considerable strides in building retail demand,” Seng said. “This has made Mexico an attractive destination for a wider variety of pork cuts, which has really enhanced our export value.”

Pork exports to Japan had slowed during the early summer, but rebounded in August to post the highest volume since February at 39,689 metric tons (valued at $169.9 million). Through August, exports to Japan were down 6 percent in volume (307,442 metric tons) but were 6 percent above last year’s record value pace at $1.34 billion.

While pork exports to the China/Hong Kong region were higher through August (+11 percent to 282,637 metric tons and +35 percent to $569.4 million), they are not likely to match last year’s pace in coming months. This is not due to poor market performance, but simply reflects the surge in export activity in late 2011 when China’s domestic pork supplies were slumping and pork prices reached record levels. For August only, exports to China/Hong Kong were down 31 percent in volume to 30,450 metric tons and 34 percent in value to $60.5 million.

Other pork market highlights for January through August include:

  • Exports to Canada were up 15 percent in volume (150,583 metric tons) and 18 percent higher in value ($549 million).
  • Led by an exceptional performance in Colombia, exports to Central and South America were 18 percent higher in volume (53,206 metric tons) and up 19 percent in value ($134.1 million).
  • Exports to Russia were 30 percent higher in volume (63,699 metric tons) and 22 percent higher in value ($182.9 million). Since Russia’s WTO accession was completed in August, in-quota exports now enter at zero duty, rather than the previous 15 percent.
  • While exports to the Oceania region were roughly steady with last year, exports to New Zealand were up one-third in volume (5,853 metric tons) and 30 percent in value ($17.7 million).

NOTE: Complete export results for pork, beef and lamb visit USMEF, click here.

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