September Pork Exports Steady; Beef Exports Lower

US - US pork exports in September were steady with last year’s volume, while beef exports were well below a year ago. Despite sluggish volumes, however, the value of both pork and beef exports through the third quarter of 2012 remains ahead of last year’s record-setting pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
calendar icon 16 November 2012
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“We are definitely in a challenging economic environment, which is making it difficult to match last year’s export volumes,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “But our products continue to command an excellent price in the international markets and provide substantial returns to US producers, which is critically important at a time when they face extremely high production costs.”

September pork exports reached 183,853 metric tons (mt), slightly exceeding last year’s total. Though export value declined six per cent compared to last year to $505 million, it was about two per cent higher than the August value of $495.5 million.

For January through September, pork exports were up two per cent in volume at 1.657 million metric tons and up six per cent in value to $4.6 billion. Exports equated to 23.6 per cent of muscle cut production and 27 per cent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat (compared to last year’s ratios of 22.8 per cent and 27 per cent). Export value equated to $56.16 per head slaughtered, 4.5 per cent above the per-head average established during the same period last year.

With fewer production days this year, September beef production declined nine per cent and exports fell 17 per cent in volume to 90,538 mt. September export value dropped four per cent to $442.8 million, but was significantly higher on a per-head-of-fed-slaughter basis – increasing seven per cent to $227.65.

Despite January-September beef export volume being down 12 per cent to 850,439 mt, export value totaled $4.1 billion. This was two per cent above last year’s record pace and already exceeded the 2010 full calendar year total of $4.08 billion. Exports equated to 9.8 per cent of muscle cut production and 12.7 per cent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat, compared to last year’s ratios of 11 per cent and 14 per cent. Export value averaged $213.63 per head of fed slaughter, up about six per cent compared to the same period in 2011.

Mexico leads September pork market highlights

September pork exports were led by strong growth in Mexico (51,510 mt, +24 per cent, valued at $92.8 million, +7 per cent). For the year, exports to Mexico were 15 per cent higher in volume (443,442 mt) and 11 per cent higher in value ($820 million). Mexico is the leading volume market for US pork and ranks second in value to Japan.

September exports to Japan trended lower, but are still on pace for an excellent year. Through the first nine months of 2012, export value to Japan was up four per cent to $1.495 billion despite a six per cent decline in volume to 344,362 mt.

Exports to Canada have posted steady growth in 2012, with January-September volume up 14 per cent to 172,812 mt and value climbing 16 per cent to $628.2 million. September export volume was record-large at 22,229 mt, breaking the previous record set in August.

Led by outstanding growth in Colombia, exports to Central and South America continue to surge. Exports through September were 20 per cent higher in both volume (60,739 mt) and value ($154.5 million) compared to last year. For Colombia, exports were up 74 per cent in volume (12,350 mt) and 110 per cent in value ($35.1 million). September export volume to Colombia also set a monthly record at 2,131 mt.

January-September exports to the China/Hong Kong region were still ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (313,425 mt, +4 per cent) and value ($632.4 million, +21 per cent). China’s domestic pork inventory, however, is much higher than a year ago and exports in the fourth quarter are unlikely to match last year. Accordingly, September exports of 30,788 mt were the highest since May but were still 35 per cent lower than the September 2011 volume.

Beef exports to Japan remain red-hot

September beef exports to Japan were just two per cent higher than last year in volume (12,487 mt), but surged nearly 25 per cent in value to $86.6 million. This was consistent with the January-September performance in which exports were steady in volume (121,207 mt) but 23 per cent higher in value ($806.1 million).

Japan now ranks second in export value to Canada, where January-September exports were down 13 per cent in volume (125,625 mt) but still achieved a five per cent increase in value ($829.7 million).

Mexico remains the leading volume market for US beef, but exports to Mexico have struggled in 2012 – reflecting a weak peso and sluggish economy. Through September, exports to Mexico were 21 per cent lower than a year ago in volume (151,767 mt) and 12 per cent lower in value ($642.6 million).

With an expanded tariff-rate quota helping boost demand, beef exports to Russia are on pace for another record year. January-September exports were up eight per cent in volume (61,923 mt) and 24 per cent in value ($242 million) over the same period last year.

Though US beef still lacks access to mainland China, export growth to Hong Kong has made the region a 2012 bright spot. Exports to Hong Kong were up 14 per cent in volume through September at 43,038 mt, and increased 32 per cent in value to $224 million.

Led by remarkable growth in Chile and solid performances in Peru and Guatemala, January-September exports to Central and South America climbed 36 percent in volume (26,186 mt) and were 73 per cent higher in value ($99.2 million). In fact, exports to the region have already exceeded last year’s full calendar year records of 25,823 mt and $85.5 million.

September lamb export value steady with last year

US lamb exports, which have battled a tough economic environment in 2012, were lower in volume in September (1,336 mt, – six per cent) but roughly steady in value at $2.3 million. For January through September, exports were down 30 per cent in volume (10,050 mt) and 16 per cent in value ($19.6 million). With US lamb still lacking access to many key global markets, the USMEF board of directors adopted a resolution last week urging the US government to make access for US lamb a higher priority in trade negotiations.

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