US pork exports show solid May results, but market access issues linger
US pork and beef exports in May exceeded year-ago levels by a considerable margin and kept year-to-date results on a very strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Pork exports totaled 181,469 metric tons valued at $481.2 million, an 11 percent jump in volume and 15 percent in value over May 2010 levels. Volume was steady with the April 2011 results, while value declined by about 1 percent. Year-to-date through May, pork exports were up 16 percent in volume (916,763 metric tons) and 22 percent in value ($2.35 billion) over 2010, and results were 11 percent higher in volume and 26 percent higher in value than the all-time record pace set in 2008. Exports equated to 28.7 percent of total US production with a per-head value of $56.81 compared to 27.9 percent and $53.10 per head in May 2010.
May beef exports were 21 percent higher in volume (109,741 metric tons) and 30 percent higher in value ($453.9 million) than a year ago. It was the second-strongest month of 2011 in terms of both volume and value, trailing only the all-time record results posted in March. Year-to-date through May, beef exports reached 509,489 metric tons valued at $2.09 billion – surpassing last year’s pace by 28 percent in volume and 44 percent in value. Exports equated to 14.8 percent of total U.S. production with a value of $205.07 per head of fed slaughter. This compares to 12.6 percent and $160.30 per head in May 2010.
North Asian markets remain red hot for US pork
Pork exports continued to post exceptional results in Japan, South Korea and China. Exports to Japan are coming off a record-setting value year in 2010, yet export value through May is up 18 percent to $790.6 million. Exports to Korea, which has been making concerted efforts to accommodate more imported pork in order to stabilize rising pork prices, have more than doubled in volume (113,565 metric tons, up 168 percent) and tripled in value ($275.4 million, up 213 percent) over last year’s pace. In fact, exports to Korea have already exceeded the totals achieved in the entire calendar year of 2010. Access to China was limited in the early months of 2010, but this year exports are comparable in volume (99,405 metric tons) to the record pace of 2008, while delivering a value of $152 million.
Pork exports to Mexico had slowed in April but rebounded strongly in May, easily exceeding last year’s totals in terms of both volume and value. For the year, Mexico is now just 2 percent below last year’s record pace in volume (220,130 metric tons) and 2 percent higher in value ($408.8 million). Pork shoulder and ham exports to Mexico should gain a further boost in the summer months, based on a 50 percent reduction in retaliatory duties announced last week as part of the settlement of the US-Mexico trucking dispute.
Other market highlights for US pork
Exports to Canada continue to perform well, running 9 percent higher in volume (80,335 metric tons) and 12 percent higher in value ($275.4 million) compared to last year. Canada is this year’s fifth-largest volume market for US pork but is essentially even with Korea as the No. 3 value market.
The Oceania region has developed into a very solid market for U.S. pork, with exports climbing 16 percent in volume (31,700 metric tons) and 52 percent in value ($100.9 million). Australia accounts for most of the export activity in this region, but exports to New Zealand are also expanding.
Exports to Chile, which is widely regarded as a growing force in terms of its own global pork exports, nearly tripled in volume to 7,810 metric tons and jumped 156 percent in value to $17.4 million. Exports to the Central/South America region are up 17 percent in volume (29.541 metric tons) and 30 percent in value ($73.3 million).
“Our key Asian destinations continue to perform remarkably well for U.S. pork, and we are extremely proud of the groundwork that was laid in these markets over the years,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “It’s only through hard work and careful investment of resources that we have been able to capitalize on some very favorable market conditions in which the need for imported pork is quite high in Japan, Korea and China. Buyers in these countries know the quality and consistency U.S. pork delivers because we have cultivated that reputation and relationship for many, many years.”
Seng also noted that increased investment by the National Pork Board of Pork Checkoff dollars for USMEF’s pork marketing programs in South Korea has been an important element in helping to maintain positive momentum for US pork, despite considerable market access challenges.
“Some pork cuts are currently enjoying tariff relief in Korea due to short domestic supplies, and our success there confirms just how much we are held back by tariffs and other trade barriers,” he said. “We’re also pleased to have the retaliatory tariffs in Mexico being phased down, and we look forward to potential tariff reductions in other markets such as Colombia and Panama, through pending free trade agreements. Progress on these issues cannot come soon enough.”