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US Maintains Ground During January Pork Exports

by 5m Editor
16 March 2009, at 9:09am

US - With key global markets experiencing sluggish consumer spending, volatile currencies and persistent economic uncertainty, many analysts have been predicting a downturn for US beef and pork exports.

January pork exports also achieved very solid results, but with an increase in variety meat leading the way. Pork muscle cut exports declined by 4 per cent in volume (to 112,417 metric tons or 247.8 million pounds) compared to January 2008, but increased by 2 per cent in value to $295.8 million. Pork variety meat surged by 46 per cent in volume (to 44,233 metric tons or 97.5 million pounds) and by 44 per cent in value to $64.4 million. This resulted in total pork plus pork variety meat exports of 156,650 metric tons (345.3 million pounds) valued at $360.2 million – an increase of 6 per cent in volume and 8 per cent in value over January 2008.

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said the January pork export results were also impressive, especially when compared to the unprecedented export levels of 2008.

“We all know that 2008 – especially the first half of the year – was an exceptional accomplishment for pork exports,“ he said. “While 2008 was an all-time high for both volume and value of US pork exports, circumstances have changed dramatically in some key markets and matching those results will be a significant challenge. But I’m pleased to see we were able to achieve positive growth in January, due in large part to our strong sales of variety meat.

“We anticipated a decline in pork demand in China, Russia and some other key markets,“ Mr Seng added. “So stepping up USMEF’s marketing efforts for US pork in other regions of the world has been very important, and it is clearly paying dividends.“

Mr Seng noted that with regard to both beef and pork, USMEF’s international teams have refocused their efforts on market niches that offer a more immediate return on investment – as opposed to some long-range educational programs – in order to help offset the projections for lower global protein consumption driven by the economic downturn.

US Pork Continues to Shine in Japan, Gaining Ground in Emerging Markets

Japan held its customary position as the top value destination for US pork, importing 42,271 metric tons (93.2 million pounds) valued at $147.3 million in January. This represented an increase of 28 per cent in volume and 39 per cent in value over January 2008. Mexico was the volume leader for pork exports at 48,697 metric tons (107.4 million pounds), but was well behind Japan in terms of value at $73.9 million.

Despite an increase in pork exports to Hong Kong, the China/Hong Kong region saw a significant decline compared to last year. With China rebuilding its swine herd and focusing intensely on increasing domestic pork supplies, its imports of US pork declined by about 75 per cent from January 2008. Pork exports to Russia declined by a similar percentage as a slumping currency and contracting economy dragged down demand. Market access is also hampered by the delisting of a significant number of US pork plants for export to Russia.

The impact of these declines was softened, however, by the outstanding performance of pork exports in several emerging markets. Exports to the ASEAN region increased by 82 per cent in volume (to 4,514 metric tons or 9.95 million pounds) and 78 per cent in value to more than $8 million. Pork exports to Australia jumped by 65 per cent in volume (reaching 4,533 metric tons or about 10 million pounds) and 80 per cent in value to more than $11 million. Led by a strong performance in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, pork exports to the Caribbean region climbed by 79 per cent in volume (to 3,182 metric tons or 7 million pounds) and 78 per cent in value to $6.3 million.