US pork exports in May fell below year-ago levels in both volume and value, according to the US Meat Export Federation. Pork exports totaled 184,865 mt in May, down 2% from a year ago, while value dropped 18% to $489.2 million.
Through the first five months of 2015, pork exports were down 6% in volume (910,967 mt) and 15% in value ($2.42 billion) from the same period last year. January-May pork exports equated to 25% of total production and 21% for muscle cuts only – down from 28% and 23%, respectively, a year ago. Pork export value per head slaughtered averaged $51.39, down 19% from the first five months of 2014.
After a relatively strong performance in April, pork exports to Japan and Mexico took a step back in May. Export volume to Japan dipped 9% from a year ago to 39,340 mt, while value was down 18% to $152.9 million. Through the first five months of the year, exports to Japan were down 11% in volume (189,188 mt) and 18% in value ($705.2 million).
May exports to Mexico were the lowest in 19 months at 53,186 mt, down 6% from a year ago. Export value fell by nearly one-third to $95.1 million. For January through May, exports to Mexico remained 5% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (291,184 mt) but were down 17% in value ($508.7 million), reflecting the decline in pork prices from last year’s record levels.
“The tremendous influx of lower-priced European pork has reshaped the competitive landscape in Asia,” Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO noted. “The European industry has aggressively targeted Japan and China, successfully capturing market share. But we’re also seeing a significant impact in smaller markets such as the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, and Korea continues to be a strong destination for European pork. While this surge was prompted by the closure of the Russian market, this is not a short-term phenomenon. There has been a significant transition in global pork trade patterns and we expect it to have a lasting impact.”
Russia was traditionally the largest destination for EU pork, but suspended imports in January 2014 due to African swine fever. Russia also included pork from the EU, US and Canada in the trade embargo imposed last year as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Russia recently announced that it would extend this embargo through June 2016, meaning that large supplies of European pork will continue to flow to other markets. The weakened euro – currently down about 22% year-over-year versus the US dollar – has also bolstered the competitiveness of EU pork.