US Pork, Beef Exports Maintain Record Pace in June

US - Pork and beef exports remained strong in June, pushing export value for both products to a record first-half pace according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Lamb exports were up slightly in value in June.
calendar icon 11 August 2014
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June pork exports totalled 181,531 metric tons (mt), up seven per cent from a year ago, while export value increased 25 per cent to $585.1 million. In the first half of 2014, pork export volume at 1.15 million mt (mmt) or +9 per cent) and value ($3.4 billion, +17 per cent) achieved record highs.

Beef exports were up five per cent in volume (106,609mt) in June and set a new monthly value record of $631.7 million (+12 per cent). First-half export value also set a new record of $3.27 billion (+16 per cent). Export volume was 585,953mt in the first half, up eight per cent from a year ago but trailing the 2011 record.

Despite intense competition, US pork performed well in Asia

Pork export value per head slaughtered was a record-high $72.24 in June, up $15 from a year ago. The percentage of US production exported was 25 percent for muscle cuts and 29 per cent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat – up from 24 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively, in June 2013.

With European pork absent from the Russian market for the past six months due to an impasse over African swine fever, competition has intensified in key Asian markets. However, US pork still achieved first-half increases in South Korea and Japan.

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, said: “USMEF has focused for many years on establishing loyal customers in these markets and impressing upon them the quality and consistency of US pork. That loyalty is being tested in this increasingly competitive environment but our results have held up very well.”

First-half highlights for US pork included:

  • Exports to Korea continued well ahead of last year’s pace, as high domestic pork prices helped fuel imports. First-half volume was up 31 percent to 77,209mt, while value increased 48 per cent to $236.3 million.
  • Pork muscle cut exports to Japan were up three per cent in volume (213,653mt) and five per cent in value ($969.3 million).
  • Exports to Mexico posted a very strong first half, increasing 15 per cent in volume (333,072mt) and 42 per cent in value ($751.6 million).
  • Colombia has emerged as the pace-setter for US pork in the Central/South America region, with exports increasing 83 per cent in volume (25,779mt) and nearly doubling in value ($69.7 million, +95 per cent). Exports to the entire region increased 12 per cent in volume (59,619mt) and 21 per cent in value ($160.8 million).
  • After a down year in 2013, exports to Australia rebounded nicely – increasing 17 per cent in volume (33,149mt) and 25 per cent in value ($114.3 million).

US pork regained limited access to the Russian market in March after a 13-month absence, with two slaughter plants resuming shipments to Russia. Exports were large in June (9,371mt valued at $34.3 million), but have now been suspended (effective 7 August) due to retaliatory sanctions announced this week by the Russian government.

June beef export value nearly $300 per head

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter set another new record in June at $299.14, up $38.93 from a year ago. The ratio of US production exported was 12 per cent for muscle cuts and 15 per cent for muscle cuts and variety meat combined – up from 11 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, a year ago.

Mr Seng explained: “Seeing beef export value per head approach $300 is really remarkable. Just four years ago, export value was about $150 per head and we broke $200 per head for the first time in 2011. This shows just how important the international markets are for delivering strong returns to the producer.”

First-half highlights for beef exports included:

  • Exports to Hong Kong increased 55 per cent in volume (71,829mt) and 76 per cent in value ($492.5 million). US beef regained full access to Hong Kong in mid-June, adding key products such as ground beef and processed meats, which should help exports maintain a strong pace in the second half of the year.
  • Momentum continued in Korea, as exports increased 11 per cent in volume (56,478mt) and 40 per cent in value ($379.5 million). Strong demand from retail outlets and restaurants helped fuel a 50 per cent increase in beef muscle cut value ($362.6 million) to Korea.
  • Export volume to Japan slowed slightly from a year ago (111,044mt, -3 per cent) but export value was steady at $693.6 million. Japanese import data show that US beef continues to gain market share, as imports were lower from all other main suppliers.
  • Exports to Mexico increased 30 per cent to 116,337mt, while value increased 44 per cent to $545.9 million. However, USMEF is analysing possible issues with the 2013 export data for Mexico, which may partially explain the large year-over-year increase.
  • Taiwan bounced back from a slow first quarter to post first-half increases in both volume (16,127mt, +3 per cent) and value ($132.8, +7 per cent).
  • Growth continued in the Central/South America region, with exports increasing five per cent in volume (20,293mt) and 20 per cent in value ($84.8 million). Peru is still the largest volume market in the region at 6,965mt, while Chile leads in value at $33.6 million.

Lamb export value higher in June but down in first half-year

US lamb export value achieved a modest increase in June ($2.6 million, +2 per cent) despite a decline in volume (986mt, -30 per cent).

For the first half of the year, lamb exports were lower in both volume (5,461mt, -25 per cent) and value ($13.8 million, -12 per cent). The decline was mostly attributable to lower exports to Canada, which were down sharply.

Panama was a bright spot in the first half, with exports totalling 38mt (+245 per cent) valued at $273,000 (+133 per cent).

Complete export totals for US pork, beef and lamb are available online.

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