US pork exports maintain pace, exports surge

15-03-2012 | |

US red meat exports have a tough act to follow after a record-setting year in 2011, but the early indications for 2012 are good. January pork exports jumped 28 percent in volume and 43 percent in value while beef exports were seen in volume but rose 14 percent in value, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“There is a challenge to follow a very successful year like 2011 and sustain the momentum,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The good news is that there are opportunities to expand the presence of US red meat by exploring new market niches as well as increasing access with several key trading partners.”

Several key measurements also showed continued growth: export value per head and percentage of total production exported. For pork, January’s export value equated to $59.44 per head of commercial slaughter compared to $43.59 a year ago, and 29.6 percent of total production (including variety meat) was exported in January versus 24.2 percent last year. For just muscle cuts, 25 percent of production was exported this January compared to 20 percent last year.

Beef exports equated to $197.95 per head of fed slaughter in value compared to $170.10 last year. The percentage of production exported – 12.3 percent for beef and variety meats and 9 percent for just muscle cuts– remained the same.

Pork exports up to key targets
Sales jumped in double or triple figures with the top key pork trading partners, surging 21 percent and 27 percent respectively in volume and value to Mexico; 88 percent and 158 percent to China; and 17 percent and 28 percent to Japan.

For the month, the US exported 211,457 metric tons of pork valued at $566.9 million, increases of 28 percent in volume and 43 percent in value. While it’s early in the year, it is encouraging that these increases are coming on the heels of a year that saw 2011 pork exports top 2.25 million metric tons valued at more than $6.1 billion.

“In some markets, such as Japan, we are reaching into new secondary markets and niches like the sozai (deli) segment,” said Seng. “In others, like South Korea, we’re focused on sustaining the progress we made last year and preparing for the imminent implementation of the Korea-U.S. FTA. Korea has made significant progress in rebuilding their hog inventories so we expect total imports to decrease this year but the U.S. will also gain a competitive edge against other suppliers through the FTA.”

Top pork export markets in January were:

· Mexico: 60,737 metric tons (up 21 percent) valued at $110.3 million (up 27 percent)
· Japan: 41,697 metric tons (up 17 percent) valued at $170.8 million (up 28 percent)
· China: 36,175 metric tons (up 88 percent) valued at $75.1 million (up 158 percent)
· Canada: 19,167 metric tons (up 47 percent) valued at $65.7 million (up 52 percent)
· South Korea: 18,173 metric tons (up 38 percent) valued at $51.5 million (up 61 percent)